When Michael Bloomberg was
sworn in as mayor
of New York
in 2002, the city was burning.
But he turned it
Today America is burning. Our
national debt exceeds GDP,
schools are failing.
Bloomberg is considering a
for the White House. He has a
good character and a proven
business record. He is the
AR I'd vote for him.
2016 February 12
Lawrence M. Krauss
LIGO discovered gravitational waves
emanating from the collision and merger of two massive black holes
over a billion light-years away.
two detectors, one in Washington State, the other in Louisiana, each
with two tunnels about 4 km in length at right angles to each other.
The experimenters shot a laser beam along each tunnel and timed how
long it took to be reflected off a mirror at the far end.
Gravitational waves rippled through the detectors at both locations
roughly simultaneously, and at each location the length of one arm
got smaller while the length of the other arm got longer,
alternating back and forth.
To detect the signal the
observers measured a periodic difference in length of less than an
attometer. This is like measuring the distance between the Earth and
the nearest star down to the width of a human hair. Even the motion
in the position of each mirror due to quantum vibrations could have
drowned the signal. But the scientists did it.
The two black
holes that collided were big. One had about 36 times the mass of our
sun, the other 29 times. The collision and merger produced a black
hole of 62 solar masses. The extra 3 solar masses turned into energy
as gravitational waves. For a moment, the collision generated more
power than that from all the rest of the stars in the observable
AR 1 solar
mass = 2 billion exatons. So it was a 6 billion yottagram bang.
MPI for Gravitational Physics/Institute for
Theoretical Physics, Frankfurt/Zuse Institute Berlin
Waves made by two black holes colliding
(92% of votes)
(93% of votes)
Love EU or
That is the question
"Germany cannot afford a
Brexit ... An EU without
Britain would be poorer.
But most of all, spiritually."
"It's like being shot or poisoned.
I think you get the same
whether it's quick or takes a
Senator Lindsey Graham on
the presidential prospects of
Donald Trump and Ted Cruz
will buy Zephyr
drones from Airbus for
£10 million. Zephyr will be
persistent presence over
the battlefield and
intelligence at much greater
level of detail than was
"The European house is burning
down and Britain
wants to waste
time rearranging the furniture."
Alphabet $547 billion
Apple $534 billion
2016 February 11
Gravity Makes Waves
The Laser Interferometer Gravitational-Wave
Observatory (LIGO) has detected ripples in spacetime from the
merging of two black holes. One black hole had a mass of 29 suns,
the other 36 suns, and each was around 150 km in diameter. The two
collided at half the speed of light about 1.3 billion years (42 Ts)
LIGO executive director David Reitze: "We have detected
gravitational waves. We did it!"
Revolution in Physics
In a press conference today in Washington
DC, the LIGO collaboration announced that they had finally detected
gravitational waves. Details appear in
Physical Review Letters.
The waves are predicted by
Einstein's theory of general relativity, which says that massive
objects warp spacetime around them. When these objects accelerate,
they make ripples in the fabric of spacetime that spread outward at
the speed of light.
LIGO detectors based in Hanford,
Washington, and Livingston, Louisiana, felt the tremors last
September at almost the same instant. Their sensors registered
spacetime expanding and contracting by as much as 1 am. By
translating the frequency of the gravitational waves into sound
waves, you can hear the final signal as a chirp.
"The total power output of gravitational waves during the brief
collision was 50 times greater than all of the power put out by all
the of the stars in the universe put together."
right. Now the era of gravitational wave astronomy is under way.
2016 February 10
The Military Balance 2016
2015 saw a surge in high-profile attacks by Islamist
terrorists, plus continuing conflict and instability across the
Mideast. Europe's ability to secure its borders came under increased
scrutiny. Combating terrorism is a global issue. But the jihadists
cannot be eradicated solely by military means.
aspires to boost collective self-defense. Deployment of a NATO
spearhead formation to East Europe requires approval. For some of
the security threats, improved partnership and better cooperation
between NATO and the EU is important. The EU possesses a wide range
of tools that NATO does not.
Mideast armed forces displayed
growing military activism during the Yemen operation. Saudi Patriot
missiles destroyed incoming Scuds fired from Yemen. Iran remained a
principal threat driver for regional states.
advanced weaponry in its new Syria campaign. Much of its display of
military prowess seemed aimed not only at degrading the capability
of Assad's enemies but also at showcasing Russian high-tech military
products for the West and potential customers.
displayed more advanced military hardware at the 2015 Victory Day
parade. Its 2015 White Paper emphasized the space and cyber domains,
but also the maritime arena. Tensions escalated over accelerating
construction activities on features in the South China Sea. There
was an evident military aspect to these activities.
Washington looked to innovate and generate a new edge. The Pentagon
created the Defense Information Unit to help it leverage lessons
from Silicon Valley on issues like big data, analytics, autonomy,
and robotics. The goal is to give policymakers the best possible
military and security advice for each contingency, to complement and
inform any possible use of their toolkit.
2016 February 9
Bungled UK Bid
David Cameron accepted the premise that the
UK has a place only in a reformed EU. Since the union is
fundamentally unreformed, the logic of his own position is exit.
Either it makes sense for the UK to stay in the EU as it is or
it does not. The British do not feel they need the union to
strengthen the legitimacy of their political institutions and they
have no interest in joining the single currency. But 44% of UK
exports go to the EU, against 17% to the US, and the political
stability and prosperity of the continent is a vital British
Eurosceptics say the EU has tied the UK economy
in red tape. Yet OECD analyses show that the UK economy is among the
least regulated of all its members. Many say the City of London is
stifled by regulation. Yet the financial crisis suggests that the
problem was more one of lax regulation than too much.
Many complain of immigration from the EU. Yet most net
immigration is from elsewhere. EU membership has not hindered UK prosperity. The
main hindrances are home
By participating in the EU, the UK has a voice in the
affairs both of its neighbors and of the world. The UK needs a voice
in Europe. Europe needs the UK to have that voice.
Bungled UK Bill
UK security services may soon be able to
collect masses of personal data under sweeping new surveillance
The pending Investigatory Powers Bill allows security
services to collect large data sets across wide sections of the
population. The parliamentary Intelligence and Security Committee
(ISC), which oversees the work of MI5, MI6, and GCHQ, warns that the
powers in the bill are excessive and recommends that individual
warrants be required for each data request.
Dominic Grieve MP: "Even those working on the legislation have not
always been clear as to what the provisions are intended to
2016 February 8
The New York Review of Books
Human brain scans show that
moral judgment involves two distinct psychological processes. One is
fast and intuitive, and occurs in areas of the brain associated with
emotional processing. The other process is slow and rational, and
occurs in regions associated with cognitive processing.
Primitive human beings evolved fast and focused brain responses for
dealing with immediate dangers or threats. Humans in more
sophisticated societies do not need the same kind of affective
response and use slower processes of moral deliberation. The slower
mechanisms came later.
Martin Seligman promotes the study of
strengths and virtues in psychology. Faced with events that seem
uncontrollable, human beings experience disruptions that give rise
to a sense of helplessness. Seligman aims to stop people being seen
as victims of their environment.
Jonathan Haidt identifies
six basic pairs of moral intuitions: care vs harm, fairness vs
cheating, loyalty vs betrayal, authority vs subversion, sanctity vs
degradation, and liberty vs oppression. He says liberals are more
disturbed by violence and suffering than conservatives and
Steven Pinker stresses the role of rationality
in fostering cooperation. He says our deliberative modes of
evaluation should prevail over affective intuitions. Empathy has
played a part in promoting altruism, but we should aim for policies
and norms that make empathy unnecessary.
Paul Bloom says
evolution has equipped us with rudimentary capacities that are
essential to the development of morality, such as empathy and a
sense of fairness. But our affective moral responses are essentially
infantile. Reason lets us transcend them.
"Psychology presently studies superficial morality and deep
morality. Superficial morality can be found in the quick,
unreflective moral intuitions that we have. Deep morality is the
reflective choices we make that involve honesty, faith, humility,
2016 February 7
EZ New Deal
French President François Hollande has
revived the idea of a new EZ parliament. Now France must make a
proposal. Otherwise the agenda will be set by such countries as the
UK and Poland.
The sudden plunge in EZ GDP from 2011 to 2013
resulted from attempts to cut deficits too quickly with tight
budgetary rules. EZ GDP in 2015 has still not recovered to its 2007
The ESM allows a joint guarantee of all EZ sovereign
debts. All public debts greater than 60% of GDP could go into a
common fund, with no repayment until a country is on a growth
trajectory. An EZ corporate tax could pay for infrastructure and
An EZ parliament would draw members from the
national parliaments, proportionate to population. France, Italy,
and Spain have roughly half of EZ population and GDP, Germany just
over a quarter.
2016 February 6
Brexit: All Lose
The New York Times
The European Union is already battered
by an economic crisis and an immigration crisis.
deal the EU a serious blow and would affect UK ties to NATO and to
the United States. The tide of refugees grows larger by the day. The
newcomers join more than one million people who sought refuge in
Europe last year. But if Britain pulls out of the union, it will
have no more say on European migration policies and no right to help
in policing the tunnel entrance in Calais.
European nations, and the world need a united and prosperous Europe.
UK Role in Europe
The British wanted to be reassured that
they will never be treated as identikit Europeans. Now they are
exempt from "ever closer union" among the peoples of Europe.
The issue of migrant workers affects Poles. David Cameron has to cut
incentives for migrant workers from the EU to come to Britain.
Poland's ruling Law and Justice party (PiS) has to stick up for
Poles abroad. Cameron needs to show that fewer migrants will be
coming, and Poland wants its people to return.
The EU has
helped. Rules for migrants already in Britain will continue as
before, but newcomers might get fewer benefits and pay higher taxes.
The Polish government can say British welfare and tax provisions
will continue to be more favorable for a Pole coming to Britain than
for a Brit seeking work in Poland.
The EU needs British
leadership in foreign policy. It needs professional British
diplomats and a more global outlook. Having lost one empire, the
British can lead a new one.
The Selfish Gene
Forty years ago, Richard Dawkins changed
our understanding of our place in nature with the publication of his
The Selfish Gene.
book was decisive in setting the frame for my neo-Darwinist picture
of emergent levels of self in the post-Hegelian dialectic of
historical conceptions of divine providence in my book
2016 February 5
Letter to the World
As technology titans we have
resisted explaining ourselves. But some people in
Europe question our motives, our integrity,
and even our right to skirt round the normal rules.
we have faced impertinent questions over our tax planning and the
structures of our companies. Some have even accused us of being no
better than any other company. They refuse to accept our loftier
We are the visionaries, committed to building a
better future. We are better placed to decide how our money should
be spent than governments, which take billions from the taxpayer and
waste them on social programs.
The Europeans are trying to
tie us down with red tape and claim unpaid taxes. If they got the
money, they would only waste it. We need to get these elected
governments off our backs so that we can change the world.
don't expect you to understand. Just be grateful for us.
Google, Apple, Facebook, Amazon, et al.
AR I sympathize.
2016 February 4
NATO promised not expand eastward after
the fall of the Wall. NATO did not have to do so. All it needed was
the political will. But the West wanted a complete victory over the
In 2009, US President Obama said that US
missile defense only served as protection from Iranian nuclear
missiles. But now there is an international treaty with Iran that
bans Tehran from developing nuclear weapons. The sanctions against
Iran are lifted, but still the Americans are working on their
missile defense system.
I am the president of 146 million
Russians. I have to represent their interests. The nationalist coup
in the Ukrainian capital of Kiev in February 2014 scared 2.5 million
Russian people living in Crimea. Our soldiers prevented the
Ukrainian troops on Crimea from impeding the freedom of expression
of the people. In the referendum the majority of citizens voted for
belonging to Russia. This is democracy. The reunification of Crimea
and Russia is just.
Sanctions are harming Russia. But the
biggest harm is currently caused by the dangerous revenue losses in our export of oil and
gas. Last year, the GDP dropped by 3.8%. Inflation is about 12.7%.
But the trade balance is still positive. We have more than
$300 billion in gold reserves.
Russia would like to cooperate
with NATO again. President Assad has done much wrong in Syria, but
the conflict would never have become so big if it had not been
fueled from outside with weapons, money, and fighters. We do not
want Syria to end like Iraq or Libya. We should support the
legitimate rulers in Syria. Only the Syrian people can decide who
should govern the country.
Last night BBC2 war-gamed a Russian push into Latvia that ended in a
2016 February 3
The news that scientists are to be
allowed to edit the DNA of human embryos will no doubt provoke
warnings from opponents of genetic modification technology.
We are playing God with our genes. But it is a good thing because
nature often gets it wrong. This research will lead to technologies
that could edit DNA much like we edit text. Its implementation could
reduce and even eliminate the birth of babies with severe genetic
Opponents say our DNA is special. But nature is
just blind chance combined with the survival of the fittest. There
is no reason why nature should not occasionally make mistakes. When
those errors could lead to terrible human suffering, it is our duty
to try to correct them.
Gene editing of human embryos to
eliminate disease should be considered to be ethically the same as
laser surgery to correct eye defects, or operating on a baby to
repair a heart defect. DNA is just another bit of our body that
might go wrong. Gene editing can benefit our children.
Atheism is at least as old as the
monotheistic religions of Abraham. But the philosophers the ancients
called atheoi were not like New Atheists. Epicurus accepted both
gods and materialism as ways to attain the state of tranquillity
that was the ultimate goal of life.
2016 February 2
A proposal for a new settlement of the UK
within the EU goes far in addressing all the concerns raised by
Prime Minister Cameron. The four baskets of the proposal:
1 On economic governance, the draft
decision sets out principles to ensure mutual respect between the
member states deepening the EMU and those
which are not. A mechanism giving reassurances cannot
constitute a veto nor delay urgent decisions.
2 On competitiveness, the draft decision
will commit to increase efforts to enhance
competitiveness. We will regularly assess progress in simplifying
legislation and reducing red tape.
On sovereignty, the proposed decision recognizes that the UK is not
committed to further political integration. It also reinforces
respect for subsidiarity.
social benefits and free movement, we need to respect the principles
of freedom of movement and non-discrimination. The proposed solution
to address the UK concerns builds on the clarified
interpretation of current rules.
The clear objective is to
have an agreement. To succeed we will all need to compromise. To
fail would be compromising our common future.
Donald Trump recently spoke about American
football: "The whole game is all screwed up." He said he missed
"what used to be considered a great tackle, a violent head-on
tackle" and slammed his fists together. "Football has become soft
like our country has become soft."
President Trump would stir
up hatred against minorities and say political correctness is a
threat to the nation. The 2008 financial crisis has left many
Americans receptive to his pitch. The economy has recovered but
inequality has grown. Many Americans feel disconnected and betrayed.
Racism has become a core element of his campaign. Last year he
said he would "build a great, great wall on our southern border" and
have Mexico pay for it. He also said he would deport all illegal
immigrants. For his fans, the "great, great wall" has become a
symbol of Fortress America.
Trump uses the term "the lying
at his appearances. Yet the big TV networks devote more airtime to
him than to all his rivals combined. He is the only Republican
candidate who gets them big ratings. He complains that journalists
ask questions about his policies.
Republicans are divided.
Newt Gingrich: "Donald Trump is a very talented man. America is a
big country. Anything can happen."
2016 February 1
European Union: A Budget Thaw
The New York Times
Europe is fighting terrorism and
shifting from the austerity that has dominated since 2010. EU member
states are not abandoning fiscal discipline, but leaders are
encouraging a more flexible approach to give them financial
firepower to counter the growing threat.
François Hollande: "We need to track the terrorists, dismantle their
networks, cut off their financing, and stop propaganda and
radicalization. The security pact takes precedence over the
European Union: A Better View
more urgent argument for staying in the EU is neither political nor
economic but strategic. For now we need to view the place of
European civilization in the world with concern
>>> (PDF, 2 pages)
of the road for a British icon
Ashes to Ashes
David Bowie wanted his
ashes to be scattered in a
ceremony on Bali.
Most of his millions will go
to his wife
Iman and his
kids Duncan and Lexi.
All his adult life, Roger Scruton
waged an intellectual war
against the academic left. In his
critique of the Frankfurt School
he sensed a Marxist conspiracy
to undermine the foundations
of Western civilization. He may
not contradict the thinkers he
reviews but he always critiques
their unsound methods, for
which he excoriates them
No Cow Ban
An EU bill to cap harmful
Agriculture causes 40% of
methane and 95% of
pollution in the EU, and the EC
wants big cuts in both
MEPs voted for the cuts but
exempted enteric methane,
from cow burps.
"The implications of the UK not
being in the EU will be truly
devastating for Europe."
AR I like it. Greeks can be
to run the refugee
camps, Germans can avoid
Europe is saved.
Only then is it safe to
the UK referendum, assuming
Brits are not aiming to push
Europe into a nationalist
and racist abyss.
AR In short, if refugees
the UK exits, and
the EU and EZ break up:
1 Supply chains break,
2 Weak national
in Europe suffer.
ASASSN-15lh could have been
a very massive star collapses
and explodes as a
the leftover star can become
a magnetar, with very
spin and a strong magnetic
field. This one could have
pumped energy into a big surrounding cloud of gas
until — BANG!
AR Blog 2016-01-15.
Terry Sejnowski and team made
a 3D model of a 10 μm
a hippocampus, using data on
synapses from sliced rat
"We discovered the key to
unlocking the design
for how hippocampal neurons
function with low energy
high computation power. Our
new measurements of the
brain's memory capacity
estimates by a
factor of ten
to at least a petabyte."
AR I reported on
Terry at a
NYAS meeting in 2002.
The Holy Roman Empire
Germany was once part of the
Empire. Founded by
Charlemagne in 800 and swept
Napoleon in 1806, the
empire suggests an alternative
federalized EU or a fatally
weakened European mosaic
of nation states.
"UK businesses can create
more jobs in Europe
out on their own."
2016 January 31
White British men from poor backgrounds are
five times less likely to go into higher education than others. If
you're a young black man, you're more likely to be in a prison cell
than studying at a top university. There are no black generals in
our armed forces and just 4% of chief executives in the FTSE 100 are
from ethnic minorities. And if you're black it seems you're more
likely to be sentenced to custody for a crime than if you're white.
AR The British establishment is
Over a quarter of all working-age adults in England
have low literacy or numeracy skills or both. A recent OECD survey
shows that English adults performed around average for literacy but
well below average for numeracy relative to other countries
surveyed. Among the adults, English teenagers aged 16-19 have the
worst literacy levels of developed nations and the second worst
numeracy levels for their age group.
English education is elitist.
Republican runner Donald Trump is in denial about America's — and
his own — immigrant roots. His grandfather was Friedrich Drumpf, a
German who emigrated in 1885, and his mother was born near Stornoway
in the Outer Hebrides.
too in that comb-over.
2016 January 30
Heated to around 100 MK, hydrogen isotopes
deuterium and tritium can fuse into helium at just a couple of times
atmospheric pressure. Just 1 g of D-T fuel yields the thermal energy
of over 6 Mg of oil. The hot plasma is confined using magnetic
fields. But the containment is highly unstable, challenging fusion
engineers for the past 50 years.
The Wendelstein 7-X
stellarator (blog 2015-11-07) is designed to allow continuous stable
operation: switch it on and it works. The aim is to build up to keeping
it going for about half an hour (2 ks). If that succeeds, a bigger
machine will produce 3 GW of heat and about 1 GW of electricity.
Tokamak Energy hopes to use new superconductors to build a
spherical tokamak small enough to fit in a living room. The goal is
to build a viable 180 MW reactor in 15 years, for a cost of around
£2 billion. Heat flows in the reactor would be much higher than in
Wendelstein 7-X, where they are already a fifth of the flux at the
2016 January 29
Angela Merkel wants to save Europe. She
wants EU unity, but the leaders of Poland, Hungary, and Slovakia
will never share her generosity toward Muslim refugees.
leaders must regain control. They need to separate refugees from
economic migrants, to secure the Greek borders, to reward
communities for settling refugees, and to counter crime.
Winston Churchill once said the public mood in regard to the
treatment of criminals is an unfailing test of the civilization of a
country. Substitute migrants for criminals.
Since New Year's Eve in Cologne, about 800
women have filed complaints with the police. The migrant sex attacks
raise big questions about gender and society.
experience the culture clash firsthand. They report men who refuse
to shake hands with them, parents who don't want them teaching their
child, and men refusing to work with them and demanding men for
The history of Islam has been shaped by
the patriarchal oppression of women. In predominantly Muslim
regions, most Muslims do not think men and women have equal rights.
They say a woman should always obey her husband.
assaults were spurred by migrant overcrowding, their lack of
prospects and family support, and a culture that makes all things
2016 January 28
The US Hard Right
Republican intransigence was not born
yesterday. To be on the right is to feel perpetually betrayed. At a
time when the right has commanding control of radio and television
talk shows, it still feels persecuted by the mainstream media. With
all its wealth, the right feels it is being undermined by the
academy, where liberals lurk to brainwash its children.
feeling that superior people have license to circumvent democracy is
still with us. Strategic gerrymandering and restrictive voting
procedures freeze out minorities, the young, and the elderly, giving
Republicans stronger representation in Congress than the popular
The surge of Donald Trump for half a year at
the top of Republican polls was mystifying to many people. They
thought the lead would quickly evanesce, but the support was
entirely political. Trump first became a political factor by
claiming that Obama has no valid birth certificate. It turns out
that a majority of Republicans have held that belief and never
renounced it. Trump was giving voice to the growl of Republican
No one wants to be guilty of compromise or looking
soft. The right hated George H.W. Bush's plea for a "kinder and
gentler" party kindling "a thousand points of light." They had no
more kind or gentle feeling about George W. Bush's "compassionate
conservatism" and his promise to "leave no child behind." They think
that is Democrat talk. And they are right.
We Cause Climate Change
2015 was the hottest year on record. And 13 of the
15 hottest years in the last 150 years occurred between 2000 and
2014, a result researchers say was with 99.99% probability caused by
Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research professor Stefan
Rahmstorf: "Natural climate variations just can't explain the
observed recent global heat records, but manmade global warming
The UN World Meteorological Organization confirms that
the global average surface temperature in 2015 broke all previous
records and says 15 of the 16 hottest years on record have all been
since 2000. In 2013, the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate
Change concluded with 95% certainty that humans are the main cause
of global warming.
The UK Met Office expects 2016 to break
the record set in 2015.
2016 January 27
Apple revenues for 2015 Q4 rose to $75.9
billion and net profits rose to $18.4 billion. Apple now has a total
of 1 billion devices in "active" use, counting each iPhone, iPad,
Apple Watch, Apple TV, Mac, and iPod Touch that connected to Apple
cloud services in the past 90 days. The company has 115,000
employees and had a market capitalization in May 2015 of over $740
AR Apple paid £12
million tax in the UK in 2015.
At the same time that an understanding of
the subject of electromagnetism was being developed, technical
possibilities that defied the imagination of the people that came
before were appearing: it became possible to signal by telegraph
over long distances, and to talk to another person miles away
without any connections between, and to run huge power systems — a
great water wheel, connected by filaments over hundreds of miles to
another engine that turns in response to the master wheel — many
thousands of branching filaments — ten thousand engines in ten
thousand places running the machines of industries and homes — all
turning because of the knowledge of the laws of electromagnetism.
Today we are applying even more subtle effects. The electrical
forces, enormous as they are, can also be very tiny, and we can
control them and use them in very many ways. So delicate are our
instruments that we can tell what a man is doing by the way he
affects the electrons in a thin metal rod hundreds of miles away.
All we need to do is to use the rod as an antenna for a television
From a long view of the history of mankind — seen
from, say, ten thousand years from now — there can be little doubt
that the most significant event of the 19th century will be judged
as Maxwell's discovery of the laws of electrodynamics.
A set of partial differential
equations, together with the Lorentz force law, form the foundation
of classical electrodynamics, classical optics, and electric
circuits. The equations underlie modern electrical and
communications technologies. They describe how electric and magnetic
fields are generated and changed by each other and by charges and
currents. James Clerk Maxwell published his equations in an early
form between 1861 and 1862.
Maxwell's genius was celebrated on BBC4 last night.
2016 January 26
Life and Death
Death is not an event of life. Death is not lived through. If by
eternity is understood not endless temporal duration but timelessness, then
he lives eternally who lives in the present. Our life is endless
in the way that our visual field is without limit.
Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus 6.4311
After a blissful
Foundation Mathematics, I half-awoke in the early
hours and lay reflecting on how the contrast between open and closed sets representing
intervals on the real line also caught the logic of immortality from
the first-person perspective. On this topic, young Wittgenstein hit
the nail on the head.
2016 January 25
The euro crisis and the
refugee crisis both involve Greece and Germany. Last summer, Germany
almost forced Greece out of the euro, rather than lend further
billions to the Greek government. Now, Germany is reeling under the
impact of the arrival of more than a million would-be refugees, most
of whom have entered the EU through Greece.
A deal would be
simple. Greece seals its northern border with EU help, stopping the
flow of migrants into northern Europe. In return, Germany agrees to
a massive write-down of Greek debt, plus immediate financial aid.
Refugees arriving in Greece are housed in camps on Greek islands in
the expectation that they will return to Syria one day.
Bottling up refugees in Greece could strand them in a small country
struggling with mass unemployment and a huge national debt. Germany
wants its loans repaid, but the refugee crisis is more urgent than
the repayment schedule. Greeks can do Germans a favor by stemming
the flow of refugees. Germans can do Greeks a favor by offering debt
Most Europeans feel compassion for the refugees but
are also worried about uncontrolled mass immigration from the
Mideast. We need to break the connection between the offer of
temporary protection from warfare and the offer of permanent
immigration into the EU. Once that connection is severed, European
public opinion will be reassured.
2016 January 24
Wenn Europa scheitert
Politiker warnen vor einem
Auseinanderbrechen der EU. Europa habe wenige Wochen, um die
Flüchtlingskrise in den Griff zu bekommen. Falls das misslingt, sei
dann das Schengen-Abkommen für grenzenlose Bewegungsfreiheit in
Europa hinfällig. Dann aber macht der Euro keinen Sinn.
es den Europäern an einer gemeinsamen Vision für eine gute Zukunft
mangelt, spielen sich wieder Fragen von nationaler Souveränität und
kultureller Selbstbehauptung in den Vordergrund.
steigt, dass Großbritannien dieses Jahr per Referendum aus der EU
aussteigt - und dann womöglich andere Mitgliedstaaten folgen. Binnen
weniger Monate würde die EU verfallen.
Drei Effekte würden
Wertschöpfungsketten: Die Industrie hat Europa in den vergangenen
Jahrzehnten mit einem Netz von Zulieferverbindungen durchzogen, mit
dem Ziel, jeweilige Standortvorteile auszunutzen. Bei einer
Implosion Europas würde ein Teil solcher Wertschöpfungsketten
durchbrochen. Sparprogramme, Werkschließungen und Jobverluste wären
die fast zwangsläufige Folge.
Inflationsschock: Dass die Verbraucherpreise bislang stabil sind,
liegt insbesondere am intensiven internationalen Wettbewerb. Weniger
Wettbewerb bringt Preissteigerungen mit sich. Die Inflationsraten
dürften deshalb empfindlich anziehen. Sofern auch die Währungsunion
zerfällt, werden die Währungen kleinerer, schwächerer
Schuldenkrisen: Am härtesten getroffen wären Volkswirtschaften, die
ohnehin auf wackligem Fundament stehen. Länder wie Großbritannien,
Frankreich, Rumänien oder Tschechien müssten sich darauf einstellen,
dass der Kapitalzustrom abreißt. Hoch verschuldete Volkswirtschaften
würden durch massiv steigende Zinsen an den Rand der Pleite geraten.
Auch Deutschland würde leiden. Die Bundesrepublik ist eine
hochgradig offene Volkswirtschaft, die bislang eng mit dem übrigen
Europa verwoben ist. Das gigantische Auslandsvermögen Deutschlands
von mehr als einer Billion Euro ist zur Hälfte im übrigen Europa
Zu den ökonomischen Schäden kommen die politischen.
Die Rückkehr zur Nationalstaaterei könnten einen Zusammenbruch
Europas bedeuten. Das hätte verheerende Folgen.
2016 January 23
The Struggle for Europe
The historic scale of the crisis facing the
European Union is dawning on its elites. Both critics and supporters
of integration talk in almost apocalyptic terms about the union and
The union has become a fiscal regime enforced by
constitutional lawyers and central bankers that consigns millions to
permanent unemployment. Nationalist politicians resist it in the
name of democracy. The union faces a deep crisis of legitimacy.
Europe awaits a change of heart among its elites. The past holds
a big lesson: integration prospered when growth and employment
mattered more than unfettered capital movements and when fiscal
policy counted for more than monetary policy.
Leaders need to
show that the union can help nations and that capitalism and
democracy can be reconciled. This will take a real effort of
historical imagination and reinvention.
The War for Islam
Islamists call for an ideal Islamic state built
on Islamic law. But Shiites and Sunnis each have their own version
of law. The rise of narrower and more extreme forms of Islamism have
only exacerbated sectarianism.
Sunnis and Shiites coexist in
many Arab states. Syria and Iraq were secular Baathist states, but
minority Alawites ruled over largely Sunni Syria and minority Sunnis
over largely Shiite Iraq. The American occupation of Iraq and the
Arab Spring broke the Arab order. Shiites in Iraq and Bahrain, and
Sunnis in Syria, welcomed change.
The collapse of the Arab order pits Iran and Saudi Arabia
against one another. Saudi Arabia interpreted the nuclear agreement
as an American tilt toward Iran. Sunnis have redoubled their efforts
to block Shiite gains. Saudi Arabian foreign policy has become more
confrontational since the Iran nuclear deal This does not bode well.
Iran and Saudi Arabia will clash in every war zone in the region
to further their interests. Both countries face economic problems.
Their energies are better spent on domestic reform than on regional
2016 January 22
Germany Losing Control
Following the New Year's Eve sexual
assaults in Cologne, some 650 criminal complaints have been filed,
half of them for sexual assault. State prosecutors have only
identified 13 suspects: 8 Moroccans, 4 Algerians, and a Tunisian. No
one has been detained for sexual assault.
people from the Maghreb states Morocco, Algeria, and Tunisia are
slated for immediate deportation from Germany. But only 23
Moroccans, 24 Algerians, and 6 Tunisians were deported during the
first half of 2015.
German policymakers have spent the past few years both
reducing the size of the police forces and inundating them with new
tasks. No one was remotely prepared for the arrival of hundreds of
thousands of refugees.
Last year, up
to 10,000 newcomers a day had to be sheltered and fed. Officials
were overwhelmed. A national register says a total of 1,091,894
asylum seekers entered Germany in 2015. But experts believe the real
figure could be far lower because registrations can easily be
Many new arrivals are simply waved into Germany
by border officials. It often takes days before they are registered.
In many places, refugees disappear soon after arrival. They can get
duplicate social benefits without getting caught by registering in
different states, perhaps using different names. Criminals can get
papers for multiple identities.
For years, German officials
have complained about countries that refuse to allow the return of
their citizens facing deportation from Germany. These include the
Islam: The Truth
Islamist radicals have no difficulty finding
justification in medieval Islamic texts for their violent ideology
and barbaric practices. But these extreme interpretations tell us
nothing about the propensity for violence in mainstream Islam.
In almost all societies, murder accounts
for most intentional killings. Between 2007 and 2012, for every
individual killed in war or terrorism around the world, 7
individuals were murdered. And the higher the percentage of Muslims
in a society, the lower the homicide rate.
Between 1994 and
2007, annual homicide rates in the Muslim world averaged 2.4 per
100,000 of the population. That was less than the average rate in
Europe and about half that in the United States. Even now, for every
murder in Indonesia, 7 people are murdered in the United States.
In the radical Islamist conflicts in the Mideast, exclusionary
politics, state repression, rights abuses, corruption, and so on are
more important drivers of violence than Islamist ideology.
2016 January 21
Dominic Johnson: "Humans the world over find
themselves, consciously or subconsciously, believing that we live in
a just world or a moral universe, where people are supposed to get
what they deserve. Our brains are wired such that we cannot help but
search for meaning in the randomness of life."
Atheists are simple souls. In their view, which derives from
rationalist philosophy and not from evolutionary theory, the human
mind is a faculty that seeks an accurate representation of the
world. This leaves them unable to explain why most human beings are
wedded to some version of religion.
For anyone who takes
evolution seriously, religions are adaptations to the experience of
living in an uncertain and hazardous world. There is no way to
square a rationalist model of the mind with the findings of
evolutionary biology. Under evolution, our minds are not primed to
seek out truth but to obey the ruling imperative of survival.
2016 January 20
The European Union badly needs fixing. The
Germans, under the leadership of Angela Merkel, have achieved a
position of hegemony. Merkel had the support of both those who
wanted to be good Europeans and those who wanted her to protect
German national interest. But in the case of the migration issue,
she acted on principle. She deserves credit for making a European
asylum policy possible.
Hungarian Prime Minister
Viktor Orbán is promoting the principles of Hungarian and Christian
identity. Combining national identity with religion is a powerful
mix. The leader of the newly elected ruling party in Poland,
Jarosław Kaczyński, is taking a similar approach. He chose migration
as the central issue of his campaign. Poland is one of the most
ethnically and religiously homogeneous countries in Europe.
Kaczyński and Orbán seek to exploit a mix of ethnic and religious
The European Union needs a comprehensive plan
to respond to the crisis. My foundation has developed a plan that
would reassert control over the European rather than national
borders and allow asylum seekers to reach Europe in a safe, orderly
way, and at a pace that reflects the capacity to absorb them. Orbán
is challenging Merkel for the leadership of Europe by attacking the
values and principles on which the European Union was founded.
I am convinced that Britain
should stay in Europe not only for economic but even more for
political reasons. Currently, Britain has the best of all possible
deals with Europe. It has access to the common market where nearly
half of UK exports go while it is not weighed down by the burden of
having joined the eurozone.
At the frontiers of physics, everyday
experience is not a good guide and experiments can be difficult and
expensive. My work has been guided by trying to make the laws more
Symmetry is change without change.
The theory of relativity is about change without change. You can
look at the world from a moving platform and different things
rushing at you or away from you will look quite different, but the
same laws will apply as in the stationary frame. You change the way
things look and yet the laws are still valid.
mechanics, the primary description of reality is a wave function and
its equations are deterministic. If you know the wave function at
one time, you can predict what it will be at another time. The deep
structure is determined, but from where we sit within the universe,
we cannot determine it. Operationally, things look unpredictable.
There is a lot about the world besides the laws of physics and
physical phenomena. I care very much about what it all means. For me
beauty goes into what it all means.
When I'm 64
64 is the age that I completed
my training in the UK as a yoga
teacher. Last year I got my
certificate. And I've been
teaching ever since.
AR I met CH in Oxford
45 years ago
2016 January 19
The Fourth Industrial Revolution
The Fourth Industrial
Revolution, by Klaus Schwab, reviews the new technologies of
artificial intelligence, robotics, the internet of things,
autonomous vehicles, 3D printing, the blockchain, biotechnology. and
so on. The confluence of these technologies amounts to a fourth
industrial revolution, following:
The steam and coal revolution of the late 18th century
2 The electricity and oil revolution of
the late 19th century
3 The digital
electronics revolution of the late 20th century
changes are so profound that, from the perspective of human history,
there has never been a time of greater promise or potential peril."
revolution can lift "humanity into a new collective and moral
consciousness based on a shared sense of destiny" — for chief
executives on their way to Davos.
This is GLOBORG — I rest my case.
2016 January 18
The lifting of sanctions on Iran brings the
Islamic Republic in from the cold, reconnects a potentially vibrant
emerging economy to world markets, and opens the way for Tehran to
become a force for stability in a region in meltdown.
an indispensable player in several Mideast conflicts. Yet it has a
long road to travel to win acceptance in a region where it has
forged a Shiite axis from Baghdad to Beirut. Sunni Saudi Arabia is
not alone in feeling that Iran has taken advantage of the fracturing
of Arab countries to behave like an imperial power.
unmet investment needs of up to $200 billion a year for the coming
decade, with a fifth of proven world gas reserves to pay for them.
It has already announced plans to buy more than 100 new airliners
Just 62 people have the same combined wealth as the
poorer half of the global population combined. The richest 1% now
own as much as the rest of the world.
2016 January 17
Why am I me?
We are no nearer to explaining why we
experience things as subjects. Neuroscience and psychology have made
huge advances in solving the questions of how the brain performs its
mechanical and computational functions. Everything so far observed
inside the human head happens automatically when the right molecules
are in the right place in the right state at the right time. My
consciousness seems to be the mental theater for the drama of the
world. I star in the show.
the psychohistoric "I am/am not X" (for each X in turn) dialectic in
my next book GLOBORG
(on which I am delaying commencement until I have a contract and an advance).
KIC 8462852 is baffling
astronomers. NASA planet hunter Kepler watched its stellar region
from 2009 to 2013 and found the star dipped erratically in
brightness throughout the period, sometimes by as much as 20%. A
team led by Tabetha Boyajian tried to make sense of this and decided
that dust from a large cloud of comets was the best explanation. In
October 2015, Jason Wright and others suggested that alien
megastructures could be dimming the signal.
Now the mystery
deepens. Bradley Schaefer studied old digitally scanned photographic
plates of the sky and found that the star faded by about 20% between
1890 and 1989. He estimates it would take maybe a million comets,
each a million gigatons in mass, to cause the dimming, which refutes
the idea. He also doubts that alien megastructure are the cause,
since they would radiate light absorbed from the star as heat, and
the infrared signal from the star seems normal.
AR I blogged the Wright idea on
2015-10-15. The aliens might convert starlight into starship fuel
(on which see
The Beginning and the End by Clément Vidal — blog 2015-11-25).
2016 January 16
Augustine of Hippo wrote in his
Confessions about his own life from his birth in 354 CE, to his
early belief in Manichaeism, to his baptism in Milan and the death
of his mother in 387.
Robin Lane Fox traces the progress of
Augustine with reference to dreams, conversions, ascents, and
visions. To assure us that prophetic dreams, mystical ascents, and
visions were common and believed in, he traces their influence on
two of Augustine's contemporaries: the Christian bishop Synesius of
Cyrene (circa 373–414) and the pagan orator Libanius of Antioch
Synesius and Libanius lived in the great
world; Augustine did not. The great world of the fourth and fifth
centuries was Rome's Eastern empire. That is where the theological
and ecclesiastical action was. It hosted the ecumenical councils —
Nicaea (325), Constantinople (381), Ephesus (431), and Chalcedon
(451) — and theological giants such as Origen, Athanasius, Chrysostom,
Basil, Gregory of Nazianzus, and Gregory of Nyssa were from places
like Alexandria, Antioch, Ephesus, and Constantinople.
Augustine sought God within himself, mystery seeking mystery: "You
were more in me than I was in me ... Anyone reading this should
travel on with me where we agree; search with me where we are
unsure; rejoin me if he finds he is astray; call me back if I am
astray. In this way, we may jointly proceed along the path opened by
love, venturing toward the one ..."
The development of Christianity was evidently a great
civilizational project, analogous to that of science in recent
2016 January 15
Astronomers have discovered a supernova brighter
than any other observed to date. At its peak it was more luminous
than 500 billion suns.
Survey for SuperNovae source ASAS-SN-15lh (SN 2015L) reached an
absolute magnitude of –23.5 and bolometric luminosity 2 × 10^38 W,
and is located in a galaxy perhaps 4 billion light-years away.
Science lead author Subo Dong: "The explosion's mechanism and
power source remain shrouded in mystery."
2016 January 14
Earth has entered the Anthropocene age.
research published in Nature shows that human burning of fossil
fuels is postponing the next global ice age for at least 100,000
The researchers found that a combination of lower
sunlight at a latitude of 65°N, where snow surviving through the
summer leads to ice sheets, and low carbon dioxide in the atmosphere
triggers a new ice age to dawn. The level of CO2 in the atmosphere
has risen from 280 ppm at the start of the industrial revolution to
400 ppm today. The CO2 will head off ice ages for the next 100 ky
(over 3 Ts).
Lead researcher Andrey Ganopolski: "It is
mind-boggling that humankind is able to interfere with a mechanism
that shaped the world as we know it."
With oil below $30, let's keep warm!
Sunni vs Shiite
Saudi Arabia is injecting sectarian venom
into the Mideast. The House of Saud and the Wahhabi clerical
establishment are inciting a Sunni-Shiite conflict that is ripping
the region apart.
Saudi leaders see the Iran-led Shiite jihad
in the region as a greater threat than the Sunni jihad. For them the
Arabian peninsula is sacred territory for Sunni Islam. The local
Shiites are abominated as idolaters by Wahhabi bigots.
Salman launched a war in Yemen against Shiites. Executing Shiite
Sheikh Nimr al-Nimr was a political assassination. The House of Saud
is facing intractable problems.
We need to get Islam out of politics.
2016 January 13
David Bowie released
Blackstar just a few days before his death. In it he sings,
"I'm not a pop star."
Bowie spoke most eloquently to the
weirdos, freaks, and outsiders. He negated all the nonsense, the
falsity, the accrued social meanings, traditions, and morass of
identity that shackled us. His songs revealed how fragile all these
meanings were and gave us the belief that our capacity for changes
Unlike Mick Jagger and Paul McCartney, Bowie
turned down a knighthood from the queen in 2003.
AR No sir, good man.
David Bowie moved from Los Angeles to Berlin
in late 1976. He had been on the edge of physical and mental
collapse. At first, he fell back on drinking and clubbing with
flatmate Iggy Pop.
To defeat his demons, Bowie needed space
and stability. His assistant Coco Schwab found him a modest
apartment in Schöneberg and stocked it with canvas and paint. She
read Nietzsche beside him, beneath a portrait Bowie painted of Yukio
Bowie began to edge away from cocaine psychosis,
finding his way out of his life of excess, remaking himself as an
ordinary man. He dressed in baggy trousers and dowdy shirts, and no
one bothered him on the street.
By the summer of 1977, Bowie
was on a creative high. With Tony Visconti and Brian Eno, he began
to make a new album, "Heroes". The title song became Berlin's rock
In those months in Berlin, Bowie made his journey
from addiction to independence, from celebrity paranoia to unmasked
messenger who told us all that we too could be ourselves.
AR I read Mishima in Japan. He committed
hara-kiri in 1970 to inspire Japanese youth with the old martial
Bowie was to the 70s what the Beatles were to the 60s
David Bowie's third album, released in
1970, touched on schizophrenia and paranoid delusion. In his fourth,
Hunky Dory (1971), he saw an exhausted landscape of fallen icons and
sunken dreams, crying out for change.
Ziggy Stardust (1972) toyed
with stardom and charisma, fed by Warhol and Nietzsche.
found the overlapping appeal of rock stars and right-wing dictators
exciting. He reveled in decadence and desperate hedonism. In 1973,
he returned from Japan by train through the USSR and the Eastern
Diamond Dogs (1974) married two dystopias: gray police state
and insurgent anarchy.
He moved to New York in 1974.
Americans (1975) found him searching for liberation in Philadelphia
soul. He got into trouble for predicting the emergence of a new
fascist leader who would cut through the mess and impose tyranny:
"Hitler was one of the first rock stars."
A love of German
art led him to Berlin for
"Heroes" (also 1977), and
Lodger (1979). He was hardly upbeat, but the music was fresh and
optimistic. In this cold war city he pulled back from despair and
AR Beatles: Born
in Liverpool, made in Hamburg. Bowie: born in London, made in
In 1869, aged 24, Friedrich Nietzsche was seen
as a prodigy and appointed professor in classical philology at the
University of Basel. But he retired due to poor health in 1878, went
mad in 1889, and died in 1900.
His sister Elisabeth seized
control of his writings and methodically deleted passages attacking
racism. For her compilation of his writings published as
Der Wille zur Macht (The
Will to Power) German academics nominated her for the Nobel
prize in literature. When she died in 1935, Hitler attended her
Nietzsche despised nationalism and ridiculed social
Darwinism. He preferred the Old Testament to the New. His
observations on the origins of liberal values in Jewish and
Christian monotheism are resonant today.
2016 January 12
I went for a dizzying car ride through the
Hollywood Hills and listened to
Diamond Dogs. All of my nostalgia instantly turned to awe. I was
hearing him sing about fiction as a mask to show his naked soul.
This changed my life forever.
I listened to
Diamond Dogs in 1974 while reading axiomatic set theory. Then I
listened to Beethoven and read Hegel on logic. I alternated the
pair, very loud, until the ideas achieved fusion. This changed my
The New York Times
USAF F-15 Eagle drops a mock B61-12
bomb as part of a $10 billion program to build a smart nuclear bomb.
Its computerized fin guidance can zero in precisely on deeply buried
targets and its yield can be dialed up or down to minimize
HD video (0:57)
General theory of relativity:
The term with capital lambda
is the cosmological constant.
term on the right hand
side multiplied by Newton's
gravitational constant G is
the matter term. The terms
R describe the
curvature of space.
Milo Moiré protests
naked in Cologne
ER IST WIEDER DA
50 Jahre alt, für schicken
800 qm Neubau geeignet
AR Wenige Minuten
am Strandweg entlang
von mir entfernt
2016 January 11
The European Union faces the worst and
most dangerous crisis since its creation. But Britain is refusing to
help — and using this historic moment of weakness to extract
concessions in time for the Brexit referendum.
It is high
time for Europeans to take a cold and honest look at the British. Or
rather, the English. Scotland is largely pro-EU while Wales and
Northern Ireland have far less influence.
This referendum is
an opportunity to cut the English loose. Let them simmer in their
splendid irrelevance. They will still be in NATO and will do no
damage. The United States valued Britain as its proxy seat at the
Half of British trade is with the EU, but
little more than a tenth of EU trade is with Britain. Radoslaw
Sikorski: "No prizes for guessing who would have the upper hand in
The EU faces an unprecedented refugee
crisis, the euro mess, a growing terrorist threat, and the Russian
invasion of Ukraine, plus another distraction from England.
For many mainland Europeans, the EU offers the promise of freedom
from the threat of nationalism. But the English are taught to
believe that nationalism is what saved them from Hitler. For
England, the EU is an economic project. Every argument is framed
around the British national interest.
The English will suffer
if they leave. The Scots may prefer Brussels to London. The EU can
repatriate financial powers from London. Global corporations can
have their European HQs in the EU. The EU can support India for a
permanent seat on the UN security council.
A child can see
that the EU needs fundamental reform. Imagine that England had
argued not for a better deal for Britain, but for all Europeans. The
English are only in it for themselves.
Albert Einstein summarized his general
theory of relativity in
Annalen der Physik in 1916.
The key is what it means to
be weightless. Einstein introduced the metaphor of an elevator in
outer space, far from any gravitating object. He imagined the
elevator pulled up by a rope so that it had any acceleration one
wanted. If it was pulled up with the acceleration of a freely
falling body on Earth then the occupants of the elevator would think
they are on Earth. This principle of equivalence implies that space
in the presence of gravity is curved.
Light in a vacuum
propagates in straight lines. With our space elevator stationary, we
emit a light beam from one side and it propagates to the other in a
straight line. It is always the same distance from the floor. Now we
do the same thing when the elevator is pulled up. The floor rises to
meet the light beam, so viewed from inside the elevator the beam
follows a curved path toward the floor.
the principle of equivalence this setup can be replaced by a
stationary elevator in a gravitational field. Gravity curves space.
Light follows the straight lines in this space as do other
gravitating objects. The geometry of spacetime is curved.
Einstein successfully explained the precession in the orbit of the
planet Mercury and predicted the bending of starlight
by the gravitational field of the sun. This was tested in the 1919
expeditions led by Sir Arthur Eddington to observe stars during a
total eclipse of the sun. The results agreed with the theory.
Einstein became a world celebrity.
The theory applies to
cosmology. Einstein believed that the universe was stationary, so in
added a cosmological constant to his original equations to predict
this. Then Edwin Hubble showed that the universe is expanding.
Einstein disowned the constant.
2016 January 10
Sex Mob Scandal
German police fired water
cannon in Cologne last night to prevent clashes between rival groups
of demonstrators who had gathered to protest against the sex mob
attacks on New Year's Eve.
PEGIDA demonstrators called for
ousting Chancellor Angela Merkel, whose policies let over a million
migrants arrive in Germany last year. Merkel responded by proposing
a sharp revision of asylum laws to speed up the deportation of
migrants who break German laws.
All agreed that the heavy
police presence had been absent when was needed on New Year's Eve.
Police confirmed that 1,700 officers had been deployed, compared
with 140 on New Year's Eve. Hundreds of young men and women had
turned out to watch fireworks and greet the new year.
Ariane Pfannstiel: "I don’t know what was worst that night. Was it
the absence of police or their impotence? Or the fact that I had
never seen so many aggressive men face to face? ... It was loud,
hostile and contemptuous of women. We fled from the square but
inside the station was no better. We were denounced as sluts and
whores, harassed and persecuted."
Mirjam: "There were boys
and old men, they looked like fathers and sons. My boyfriend was
standing right beside me, trying to push them away, but it was
incredible. They were just taking it in turns to grab at my breasts.
I thought if I let go of my friend's hand they would drag me away."
Sabine told German radio she had scratch marks between her
thighs where a man had groped under her skirt. Other women reported
their purses had been snatched and some told police they had seen
gang leaders directing the assaults.
police said the number of cases filed involving violence during the
festivities had reached 379, including 2 claims of rape, and that
migrants made up the majority of suspects.
New Year's Eve
assaults on women also took place in Hamburg, Stuttgart, and
On Thursday, visitors to Cologne cathedral saw
Swiss performance artist Milo Moiré standing naked with a banner
that read: "We are not fair game even when we are naked."
Merkel: "The most important thing is that the facts about what
happened are spoken about openly and bluntly. Terrible things
happened and we must respond to them."
German Mood Ugly
Cologne, New Year's Eve: Crowds of people
gather on the square between the cathedral and the railway station
But something more sinister is going on. Women
and girls are surrounded, poked and jeered at as whores and sluts,
their blouses ripped and their underwear torn off. One girl: "I had
mens' hands on every body opening."
More than 100 women file
sexual molestation charges against men of north African or Arab
origin. Yet the next morning the police report a quiet night.
German railway stations had been symbols of the new
Willkommenskultur, with crowds welcoming refugees from Syria and
elsewhere. Now they are symbols for what some call Islamic rape
culture. The mood is ugly across Europe today.
2016 January 9
UK vs EU
Ashley Fox MEP
Brexit: What would happen if Britain voted to leave?
report by the group British Influence looks at the arguments against
leaving by posing the challenges that the UK would face were we to
The case for voting to leave
This report by the Vote Leave
group is focused on how leaving might be of benefit to the UK.
Supermassive Black Holes
Our universe is just one in a multiverse, says the
theory of eternal inflation. If at the big bang spacetime expanded
exponentially, quantum effects played a role in how it evolved. A
small patch of spacetime could flip into a different quantum state,
forming a bubble. Such bubbles could form at random throughout our
inflating universe. Bubbles could inflate into their own baby
universes. Each would spawn other bubbles, to make a multiverse.
Vilenkin and colleagues have found that bubbles formed with a
low enough internal energy begin to expand. But when inflation ends
in our universe the bubbles collapse to black holes. Bubbles that
form later are smaller and collapse into standard black holes, with
only a singularity inside. But earlier bubbles create bigger black
holes concealing their own baby universes. At first we are connected
to their interiors via wormholes, but these quickly close. The
universes within keep inflating.
The analysis suggests that
we can look for signs of the multiverse by checking the distribution
of black holes. The higher the mass of the black holes, the more of
them there should be up to a critical mass, after which the number
should fall. This may help explain how the supermassive black holes
we see became so big. The black holes hiding a universe within would
start out big.
may also have implications for the
hole information loss paradox. If the information swallowed by a
black hole comes out again in Hawking radiation, we face problems,
such as the formation of a blazing firewall at the horizon of the
black hole, something prohibited by general relativity. If black
holes may hide baby universes, we can think again.
2016 January 8
Ron Rosenbaum: "I believe the State of Israel
may not survive."
The Islamic revolutionaries of Iran want to
"wipe off the map" a country credited with 80 to 200 nuclear
weapons. Israel is not a great power, but like the United States it
possesses a nuclear triad: attack aircraft by air, Jericho IRBMs on
land, and SLBMs at sea. The Dolphin U-boats offer CASD. With one
boatload, Israel can obliterate Iran as a civilization and still
have enough left to deter the rest. The Islamic regime will not
court Armageddon to destroy Israel.
Israel has beaten the
Arabs over and over again. The Jewish state has an army of 133,000
500 tanks, some 440 combat aircraft, and 400,000 reservists. In
terms of GNP, Israel puts $306 billion on the scales. Egypt, Jordan,
Lebanon, and Syria together come in at $400 billion. Israel has
seven great research universities, the Arab world none. Hezbollah is
the best Arab force in the region, but Israel can bomb its arms
deliveries from Iran.
Jewish immigration to Israel reached a
15-year high in 2015, with around 30,000 new arrivals. They come
from France, Russia, and Ukraine. Israel projects a population of 11
to 12 million for 2035. In fertility ranking, Israel is #1 among all
Western nations. Fertility reflects trust in the future. Jews have
survived for 5776 years.
Sholem Aleichem: "No matter how bad
things get, you have to go on living, even if it kills you."
AR On Ron, see blog 2015-12-15.
Saudis vs Iran
Israelis think more clearly than most
about the geopolitical dynamics of the Mideast. Tehran holds promise
as a natural ally for Israel. But logic still dictates that Israel
stay with Saudi Arabia. Checking Shiite ambitions trumps the
Iran has civilizational depth. Any Mideast
nation that allocates most of its university places to women has
something going for it. Saudi Arabia weds the medievalism of the
House of Saud to the extremist Wahhabi brand of Sunni Islam.
The west was duped into a nuclear deal with Iran that offers at best
a pause in its nuclear program. Tehran backs Hizbollah in Lebanon,
Hamas in Gaza, the Assad regime in Syria, and Houthi rebels in
Yemen. Israel cannot wait for reform in Iran.
alliance with Saudi Arabia is loosening. Dependence on Gulf oil and
tolerance of Wahhabism are waning. Yet Saudi Arabia is still viewed
as an ally. Its theocracy is preferable to the black flag of the
caliphate raised over Riyadh.
Annual arms spend:
Arabia $55 billion
Iran $10 billion
Pablo Carlos Budassi
Our Visual Universe
Radial log plot from NASA data
use sunlight to turn water and
carbon dioxide into
plants need, plus oxygen.
Yang is building an
artificial system that does the
engineered bacteria. It will
churn out standard fuels
with no net carbon footprint.
The system is about as
efficient as natural photo-synthesis. Making it
efficient comes next.
Vincent Callebaut sees ocean
reaching to the
sea floor from green marinas
on the water surface.
would provide 250 floors of
space to live and work and
reach a depth of 1 km. They
desalinate seawater for
drinking, use microalgae to
organic waste, be
lit by bioluminescence,
and be printed from
2016 January 7
Astronomers have found that black holes can
sometimes be seen through an optical telescope.
V404 Cygni is
a binary system some 8,000 light years (75 Em) from Earth. A black
hole and a star orbit each other about once a week, close enough for
the black hole to strip matter from the star. This spirals down into
the black hole and emits a final burst of radiation.
June, the NASA Swift gamma ray telescope picked up signs of an
outburst. When Japanese scientists looked at the black hole they saw
flashes of light for the two weeks it was active.
Chandra x-ray observatory recently detected two big blasts of gas
coming from a supermassive black hole 26 million light years away in
the heart of galaxy NGC 5195.
Texas astrophysicist Eric
Schlegel: "Astronomers often refer to black holes as eating stars
and gas. Apparently, black holes can also burp after their meal. It
is common for big black holes to expel gas outward, but rare to have
such a close, resolved view of these events."
AR On greedy black holes, see blog
2016 January 6
Both the kingdom of Saudi Arabia and the
Islamic Republic of Iran have staked their legitimacy on a mission
of exporting religion. The Iranians warned the Saudis not to harm
Shiite Sheikh Nimr al-Nimr but the Sauds killed him anyway. The
principal victim will be House of Saud itself.
coming to power in 1979, the mullahs called on Gulf states to revolt
and sever relations with the United States. The Iranians especially
targeted Saudi Arabia but failed to see that their revolution was
never an attractive model of empowerment for Saudi Shiites.
The Saudi kingdom's current rulers seem to share Iran's
misconceptions about the loyalties of Saudi Shiites. Denigrating
Shiites as heretics only inflames their grievances and radicalizes
The post-colonial Arab order is disappearing. Syria and
Iraq are beset by civil wars. Iran is on the march. The silence from
Washington is deafening.
Peter Müller, Christoph Scheuermann
EU leaders plan to
give in to most of David Cameron's reform demands. At the February
summit he will be opposed by all his 27 EU counterparts. But in the
end he will get his way.
European Council President Donald
Tusk, European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker, and German
Chancellor Angela Merkel have already written the script for their
own defeat. Their goal is to give Cameron the political tailwind he
needs to keep the UK in the EU following his planned referendum. For
them, Brexit is a nightmare scenario:
FN leader Marine Le Pen has already announced that she plans to hold
a similar referendum in France if she wins the French 2017
presidential elections. Brexit and Frexit together would kill the
2 Brexit would knock the EU
power structures off kilter. Without the UK and its advocacy of free
trade, the influence of southern European countries would rise and
that of Germany and its northern neighbors would fall.
3 The EU would be weakened in the global
economy. Brexit would leave the union with 13% fewer residents and
17% less economic clout. Without London, the EU would have no global
financial capital except Frankfurt.
Even the most
controversial British demands could go through. Cameron wants a law
to stop EU citizens who work in the UK from accessing social
benefits for four years. This is a clear case of discrimination and
violates EU law. A compromise solution could exclude citizens of EU
member states from British social benefits for one year in
accordance with a previous European Court of Justice ruling.
Advocates of Brexit hope that British voters will choose Brexit no
matter what kind of deal Cameron strikes in Brussels. Jim Mellon:
"The Eurozone ship is like the Titanic. It will sink sooner rather
than later. It is better to be sitting in a lifeboat than to be
Sex Attacks in Germany
The New York Times
On New Year's Eve in the German city
of Köln, about a hundred young women were sexually harassed and robbed
by hundreds of young men. The assaults took place on the public
square in front of Köln Hauptbahnhof, near bars and nightclubs.
Police said the attackers were young men "who appeared to have a
North African or Arabic" background.
Wolfgang Albers said the assaults had taken place in a chaotic crowd
after a fireworks show. The men appeared to have broken into smaller
groups, with each one encircling a woman, while some groped the
victim and others stole her wallet or cellphone. One victim said she
had been raped.
Kölner Oberbürgermeisterin Henriette Reker
called the assault "absolutely intolerable" and pledged her support
for an investigation. Köln took in more than 10,000 migrants last
year, many of them young men from Afghanistan, Iraq, and Syria.
Similar assaults took place on New Year's Eve in Hamburg.
2016 January 5
Cass R. Sunstein
Many wealthy people worldwide hide money
in foreign countries to avoid paying taxes in their home countries.
About 8% of the world's wealth, or $7.6 trillion, is held in tax
havens. In 2015, Switzerland alone held $2.3 trillion in foreign
wealth. Unreported foreign accounts cost governments about $200
billion in tax revenue each year. In the United States the annual
tax loss is $35 billion. In Europe it is $78 billion.
Zucman says international balance sheets show more liabilities than
assets. In 2015, the nations of the world recorded $2 trillion as
mutual fund holdings in Luxembourg as liabilities. But Luxembourg
recorded $3.5 trillion in mutual fund holdings as assets. The
missing $1.5 trillion had no owners. The amount by which assets
exceed liabilities is a measure of the hidden wealth. The global
grand total is around $7.6 trillion.
Zucman proposes an
automatic global register to let every government in the world know
where money is kept and who is escaping national taxes. An automatic
register makes special inquiries or evidence of suspicion
unnecessary. A global register would not only help combat bribery
and money laundering but also ease imposition of a global wealth
Many nations are considering requirements on banks to
identify their clients and to disclose holdings and payments. But
they are not proposing penalties. Banks have a lot to gain from
business as usual. Also, offshore accounts hidden behind trusts and
shell corporations are hard to link with their real owners.
Tax evaders are mostly the wealthiest people. Tax avoidance by
multinational corporations is different, because it is typically
done without violating a national law. Tax avoidance costs the
United States $35 billion a year, and some estimates say that the
real loss is as high as $100 billion.
An automatic global register should use blockchain technology
2016 January 4
UK Economic Security: EU Membership Vital
David Cameron's claim that British
membership of a reformed EU is vital to Britain's economic security
is backed by an overwhelming majority of economists in an FT survey.
Most of the 102 economists thought economic
prospects following a Brexit would be hit if voters decided to
leave. None thought a vote to leave would enhance UK economic growth
this year and 67 said the outlook would deteriorate. Brexit was the
top cited risk to prosperity, with concern that exit would cause
capital to flee the UK.
In the medium term, opinion was even
more strongly opposed to exit. Concerns were that companies would no
longer use the UK as a base for their European operations: 76
economists said leaving the EU would harm prospects, 8 said the
outlook outside the EU would be better, and 18 said it would make
UK Strategic Security: EU Membership Vital
Brexit would be bad for Britain and Europe.
The UK would lose its hold on developments in Europe, lose the
weight of the EU to back it up, and loosen its special relationship
with the United States.
The UK chose to
be the junior partner in a US "special relationship" rather than a
leader in European integration. Britain is now too weak to go it
alone globally, and engaging more with the EU would be wiser.
Americans want a strong European partner with a united foreign
policy. For US policymakers, Britain is relevant only so far as it
can help build coalitions in the EU.
The EU is becoming a
political entity. The German-French conflict has been solved through
European integration. Democracy around Europe is consolidated
through European integration.
2016 January 3
Rebekah Herrick sought to figure out why so
many US senators and representatives stay clean-shaven. She
collected photos of the male members of Congress with facial hair
and matched each photo to an image of a similar bare-faced member,
then showed the photo pairs to a group of students and asked them to
rate the men for masculinity and likely stances on feminist issues.
The congressmen with facial hair were thought to be more
masculine and less feminist. Women and feminists in the group said
they were less likely to vote for them. This may be why so few
political candidates have sported facial hair since women gained the
right to vote. Yet voting records show that on average the bearded
policymakers vote like the others on feminist issues.
politicians grow beards not for sexist reasons but for the reason
that facial-hair researchers have unearthed again and again: The
beard gets respect. A thick beard signals virility, sexual potency,
manhood, and natural strength and authority. Across several studies,
men with facial hair are rated as more masculine, dominant, older,
and in some cases attractive.
I'm growing a beard.
2016 January 2
Latin was squeezed out of many British schools
with the introduction of the National Curriculum from 1989. Classics
was commonly dismissed as a stale and arcane subject, beyond the
interest of anyone outside the old public schools or Oxbridge. Now
that is changing.
Last year the British Museum in London
staged an exhibition dedicated to the Greek aesthetic. It showcased
Greek and Roman craftsmanship as well as contemporary thought about
the past. Latin and Greek suffered tremendously in our time and are
only now returning.
Knowledge of Latin used to be
prerequisite for studying at the top universities. But in 1960 both
Oxford and Cambridge dispensed with Latin as an entry requirement
for non-classics candidates. That year too it was decided that Latin
would no longer be obligatory at O level.
The ancient Greeks
appeal to military men too. US generals Colin Powell and David
Petraeus studied Greek military texts. Change is coming: Oxford
scholar Peter Frankopan began his new history of the world not with
Greece but with the rise of the Persian empire.
2016 January 1
Joos van Gent
Augustine, born in 354 CE, had a strong
sexual appetite. Moving to Carthage as a young man, he sank into a "seething cauldron of lust" and admitted to "procuring
the fruits of death" while in church. He also took a concubine with
whom he had a son. He prayed for chastity, but "not yet".
Augustine came to reject sex
but saw that evil
was part of human nature. As a student, he joined a club
whose members went around harassing other students. He joined
because he was lonely. He slept around for the same reason. He
realized that our vices are often misdirected virtues.
Confessions, composed in his early 40s, reads like the work of a
great novelist or poet.
What Is Islam?
but the boldest and best
thing I have read in
field in years."
"What Shahab Ahmed has
accomplished in this book
is to create a postcolonial
Ace of Spades
Ellen Handler Spitz
Fairy tales seek the truth
glimpse greater things.
We are hooked by the imagery
the gaps, by deep
yearning and terror.
They beckon us.
The Saudi ministry of finance
will roll out austerity
and privatization plans. The
Saudi budget deficit in 2015 is
about $100 billion
$160 billion. Fiscal discipline
may reduce the
deficit in 2016
with revenues forecast at
AR Stop funding Salafism.
China counters terrorism
AR Here in
Poole the warm
weather continues. Before
breakfast I ran miles along
the beach and returned to
where I'd parked my shoes
gone — I had
to run home barefoot.
Tough feet, old shoes,
AR Gray was at my Oxford
college, a year
ahead of me.
Once over brandy and cigars
in the SCR, I told Isaiah
that I was trying to reconcile
Hegel and Frege in logic via
set theory and he replied with
an ironic smirk: "Good luck!"
AI Aces IQ Tests
MIT Technology Review
IQ tests usually include verbal
reasoning questions that are hard for an AI. Huazheng Wang and
others at the University of Science and Technology of China and at
Microsoft Research in Beijing built a deep learning machine that
outperforms most humans at them.
Data mining techniques can
analyze huge bodies of texts to find the links between words they
contain. The statistics of word patterns show how words relate to
each other in a huge parameter space. Words are represented by
vectors in this space. Google language translation takes word
sequences in different languages represented by similar vectors as
translations of each other.
Words with multiple meanings make
IQ questions harder, so the new approach takes each word and looks
for other words that often appear nearby, then checks how their
vectors are clustered, then looks up the words in a dictionary and
matches the clusters to each meaning by comparing sample sentence
vectors to the clusters. An algorithm sets an approach for each
category of IQ question.
The team compared their AI scores on
IQ tests with human scores. Average human scores were lower. Human
performance on these tests tends to correlate with educational
background. The AI method scored better than most university
FRBs, fast radio bursts, are thought to
come from deep space. So far, 11 have been observed. They may be
signals from black holes behaving in a new way.
approach to quantum gravity, the quanta of spacetime are tiny
interlocking loops. A black hole might shrink to a density where the
loops press together and bounce. As the black hole shrinks, the
probability of quantum tunneling rises until it pops out as a white
hole, spewing out hot stuff.
Carlo Rovelli and others
calculated that an exploding black hole would emit signals at a
wavelength equal to its diameter. For primordial black holes, the
wavelength is between infrared and radio waves. Their predictions
for an exploding or bouncing black hole signal match the observed
Time slows down in a gravitational field. A massive
black hole with stronger time dilation would take longer to bounce.
Primordial black holes are generally tiny, like ticking time bombs.
The smaller ones will explode earlier in cosmic history, with FRBs
at shorter wavelengths. This could be tested.
ideas come to mind. FRBs may be emitted by young pulsars. Or they
may be the call sign of a distant alien civilization.
2015 December 30
Imperial Europe prizes effectiveness over
democracy and national sovereignty. The ship may sink. The best bet
for vassal states like Britain or France is to stay on board.
The imperial competition directorate is a
formidable bureaucratic weapon with prosecutorial powers. Charged
with maintaining the integrity of the single market, it defends
consumers against monopolies and protectionist governments and it can
levy fines that humble the biggest global companies.
Singlemarketland is the richest and most powerful economic entity in
The imperial eurozone is turning into the state of
Euroland, with an interventionist central bank, a bailout fund,
enforceable fiscal rules, and common banking supervision. North
European exporters will benefit from an artificially low exchange
rate and will subsidize the south Europeans to reform and regain
The imperial passport-free travel zone is
turning into Schengenland. With 26 countries, this incipient
superstate is a benefit that ordinary Europeans truly value. It has
come under threat from terrorism and uncontrolled migration, so
Schengenland now has its own army to protect its external frontier
and police to ensure an effective criminal justice system.
Most voters are not yet ready to accept imperial Europe and to
forswear national sovereignty. They could sink the ship. But the
consequences would be catastrophic.
Ahmed on Islam
Shahab Ahmed was a scholar of Islamic
studies at Harvard. He argued that the interpretation of Islam
through western scholarship obscured the historical and human
phenomenon of Islam. He died this year aged 48.
Ahmed studied the Satanic Verses incident in which the Prophet
Muhammad was said to have mistaken some verses suggested by Satan as
being part of the divinely revealed Koran. Ahmed found a consensus
on the event in contrast to the doctrinal rejection that emerged
At Harvard, Ahmed taught graduate seminars.
He covered a tremendous braid of narratives in an intellectual
tradition spanning over a millennium. He left the Satanic Verses
project incomplete but wrote an introduction:
What Is Islam?
A belt of Muslim societies stretched for five centuries from eastern
Europe and southern Asia into northern India. Islam embraced the
rationalism of Avicenna, Sufi mysticism, a celebration of art, a
taste for literary ambiguity, and distinctions between public and
private selves and legal and other norms.
the idea of a superior truth accessible to philosophers and a lesser
version of that truth communicated via such prophets as Muhammad.
This understanding of the relationship between reason and revelation
prompted charges of heresy, but Avicenna won the argument across the
Ahmed defines Islam as an engagement with the
larger reality within which the Koran was revealed. The history of
Islam comprehends not only literalists who hold to the Koran and the
Hadith but also Islamic philosophy and Sufism, and everything in
between. The challenge facing modern reformers is to use the history
to explore Islam.
2015 December 29
The Year in Review
US Department of State
US foreign policy achievements in
• Diplomatic relations
re-established with Cuba
Winning fight against violent extremists
Protecting Arctic climate and communities
Iran peaceful nuclear program ensured
Stemming tide of Ebola outbreak
Committing to ambitious development goals
Open door to free trade
Protecting health of our ocean
Strongest climate agreement ever negotiated
Bringing peace, security to Syria
Uh? This is Orwellian.
US vs Daesh
In a 2007 report, Professor Joseph Nye and
former Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage said that to solve
its problems the United States needs a mix of hard and soft power.
Their commission included former Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel;
Senator Jack Reed, now the ranking member of the Senate Armed
Services Committee; Representative Mac Thornberry, now the chairman
of the House Armed Services Committee; and former CENTCOM commander
Marine General Tony Zinni. The big line in the report: "Soft power
is the ability to attract people to our side without coercion."
A smart power campaign directed against Daesh might look like
1 Recognize that the cost will
2 Seek a collective, truly
international strategy for the region.
Focus on drafting and resourcing a powerful collective strategic
4 Jobs, jobs, jobs.
Some cynics will say that this sounds laughable.
AR Well, yes: A narrative is more than a
Germany vs Daesh
When Germany recently signed up
to the coalition against Daesh, the world took note. Its postwar
polity had saddled Germany with the reputation of being shackled by
remorse for the second world war and the Holocaust or even of
freeloading on defense and security.
Germany inched its way
into post-cold war military deployments only cautiously and slowly.
It refused to join US-led coalitions in Iraq or Libya. But since
1999 Germany has committed thousands of troops to missions worldwide
and is doing its bit in NATO operations.
Germany is not alone
in struggling to articulate security strategy in a changing global
order. We must make our democracies more resilient. But we must also
make clear that we stand with our allies. Attacks or provocations
will have consequences.
Responses need not always be
military. Sanctions and diplomacy have worked against both Iran and
Russia. The mass flight of Syrians from their homeland has alarmed
and infuriated Daesh. Germany has responded well.
AR True: Without people Daesh is dead.
Saudi Arabia vs Daesh
Daesh is at war with the Saudi religious
establishment to determine who espouses the purest tenets of Sunni
Islam. As the custodian of the holy sites and the host for the hajj,
Saudi Arabia leads all Muslims in fighting Daesh. Its new Muslim
coalition to fight terrorism confirms that it is neither the source
of Daesh nor aligned with Daesh. Consider:
1 Both Saudi
Arabia and Daesh claim to be Salafi. This is how the Prophet's
followers under the first three caliphs practiced Islam. The kingdom is
Salafi, but the Daesh claim to be Salafi has no theological basis.
Daesh follows a sect known as the Kharijites, who defected from the
ummah during the reign of the fourth caliph Ali (whom they
assassinated). The Kharijites said anyone who disagreed with them
should be murdered as infidels (takfir), including women and
children (isti'rad), or tortured to test their faith (imtihan).
2 Daesh has committed an act of disobedience that nullifies its
Salafi pretenses. In original Islam, the highest authority is the
guardian of the ummah (wali al amr). Saudi Arabia is this authority
today. King Salman is the wali al amr. The proclamation (bay'ah) is
a contract between the ruler and the ruled in which the ruler swears
to promote Islam and the welfare of the ruled, and the ummah swears
to obey (ta'ah) the tenets of Islam and follow the wali. The bay'ah
is fundamental to Salafism. Daesh has broken the bay'ah.
3 Daesh and
Saudi Arabia are locked in a theological struggle from which only
one can emerge victorious. The core mission of Daesh is to restore
the caliphate. Given that Saudi Arabia is the epicenter of Islam,
the Daesh road to the caliphate lies through the Saudi kingdom and
Daesh is a threat to the entire world. Only a
coalition led by Saudi Arabia can both defeat and delegitimize it in
the eyes of all Muslims.
AR We need to rid the world of
2015 December 28
Daesh in Iraq
Iraqi troops have retaken the city of Ramadi from
Daesh. Iraqi TV showed Iraqi soldiers celebrating the "liberation"
of the city, about 110 km from Baghdad. Ramadi fell to Daesh in May.
It citizens are mostly Sunni and the Iraqi troops are mostly
US-led coalition spokesman Colonel Steve Warren:
"The clearance of the government center is a significant
accomplishment and is the result of many months of hard work by the
Iraqi Army, the Counter Terrorism Service, the Iraqi Air Force,
local and federal police and tribal fighters."
Daesh in Afghanistan
US commander of NATO forces in Afghanistan
General John F. Campbell says Daesh has surfaced in Afghanistan.
President Obama says the US "commitment to Afghanistan and its
people endures" and Afghan forces are "fighting for their country
bravely and tenaciously" as they try to hold urban areas. UK General
Dannatt last week on the fall of Sangin: "We left Afghanistan in a
situation where the Afghans were in control and the future was in
their hands. It is not a great surprise that the Taliban have
continued to push in southern Afghanistan."
Afghanistan to destroy al-Qaeda and the Taliban. Now we want the
Taliban to fight against Daesh.
Daesh in Gaza
Hamas runs the de facto government of Gaza.
Its members are seen as infidels by Daesh because they place the
battle for Palestine before the campaign for a caliphate. Daesh
supporters in Gaza have been firing rockets into Israel.
video posted online by Daesh on June 30, 2015, shocked Hamas: "The
point of jihad is not to liberate land, but to fight for and
implement the law of God ... We will uproot the state of the Jews
and you [Hamas] and Fatah [the PLO faction] ... and you will be
overrun by our creeping multitudes."
In recent months, Hamas
has persuaded moderate Salafi sheikhs to help convince jihadists
that their interpretation of Islam is wrong. Sheikh Omar Hams,
director of the Saudi-sponsored Ibn Baz Institute: "A Salaf means an
original ancestor, one of those who lived close to the Prophet and
observed his actions intimately, followed his ways and his words
The nightmare of being locked inside Gaza with
Daesh is worse than all other nightmares the Gazans have faced. If
Daesh gains a foothold there, Israel will have to find a solution.
The United States is far from alone in
dealing with deadly, destructive weather at the moment.
rains in parts of South America, blamed on El Nino, have displaced
more than 150,000 people across Argentina, Brazil, Paraguay and
Swaths of northern England have disappeared under
mammoth flooding, prompting evacuations and dozens of urgent
Authorities in Spain and Australia, meanwhile, are
fighting to get devastating fires under control.
2015 December 27
Well over a million asylum seekers
gatecrashed EU borders in 2015.
In Hungary, prime minister
Viktor Orban stopped the influx with border fences, ignoring threats
of sanctions from Brussels and Berlin. In Poland the nationalist Law
and Justice party swept to power in October on an anti-immigration
Countries across Europe blame Germany for the
migration crisis. British Labour MP Frank Field: "Defending our
borders will become the dominant issue in British politics. It will
be the defining issue in the forthcoming EU referendum."
Europe has a problem with the integration of Islam. Countries with
the largest Muslim minorities have been the least successful at
integrating them. Tighter border controls are clearly necessary for
the prevention of terrorism.
Border anxiety looks certain to
BASIC advocates delaying the UK Trident renewal project. The
risk of delay has been overstated. The underwater battle space is
under major transition, and it is far from clear how new Trident
submarines will be able to evade detection from emerging ASW
A focus on CASD is a symbolic test of
commitment to nuclear deterrence. CASD is grossly extravagant. The
case for CASD centers on crisis stability. A future government may
not be able to scramble an SSBN onto patrol fast enough. But a
surprise attack on the UK is unlikely.
New underwater drones could torpedo Trident
Gott und die Welt verleugnet
von Andy Ross
Warum es die Welt nicht gibt
von Markus Gabriel
Die Welt existiert nicht, weil sie zu groß
und unbegrenzt wäre - so Gabriel. Die Welt ist die Summe aller
Sinnfelder aber nur Sinnfelder existieren. ...
... Durch diesen Mangel zu schauen ist für uns in Richtung Gott und
die Welt zu bewegen, schon wieder in einer Dialektik. Meiner Ansicht
nach könnte man die Ideen von Hegel soweit modern umsetzen. Dies
scheint mir aber wesentlich weiter als Gabriel zu gehen gewagt hat.
Fazit: Gabriel hat anscheinend Gott und die Welt noch nicht
2015 December 26
John Gray, Isaiah Berlin
John Gray (Exeter, 1968) on Isaiah
Berlin (Corpus, 1928): "I revere and even love him."
the Bolsheviks in Petrograd in 1920, Berlin's wealthy Jewish family
went to Riga and then to London. He was 11. He went on to outscore
the future philosopher A.J. Ayer at finals, take a second first in
PPE with less than a year's study, win a Prize Fellowship to All
Souls aged 23, and many years later become the inaugural President
of Wolfson College and the President of the British Academy.
Gray enjoyed his undergraduate and graduate years at Exeter, where
he studied PPE before completing a D.Phil. He left Oxford for the
London School of Economics when the chair of Professor of European
Thought was created for him. He retired in 2008. He has written more
than 30 books and hundreds of reviews and essays.
The Silence of Animals (Gray, 2013) begins with a citation by
Arthur Koestler, imagining civilized apes living in harmony with the
treetops, while the Neanderthals trampled the forest. From the point
of view of the apes, says Koestler, the humans were a barbaric
relapse of history. Gray: "Whereas the Victorians retched at the
idea of being among the apes, it is in fact humans who have turned
out to be the most destructive species."
Gray is scathing
about political progress. Getting rid of Hussein in Iraq or Gaddafi
in Libya did not result in greater freedoms and democracy. Gray
predicted that al-Qaeda would be followed by something worse, he was
laughed at, and now we have Daesh. He sees no steady advance toward
greater civilization or even human decency. His ethics are based on a negative concept of liberty: "Negative freedom is true
freedom because it best captures what makes freedom valuable, which
is the opportunity it secures to live as you choose."
Isaiah Berlin: An Interpretation of His Thought (Gray, 1996)
cites Berlin: "[T]o sacrifice the present to some vague and
unpredictable future is a form of delusion which leads to the
destruction of all that alone is valuable in men and societies ...
the purpose of life is to be lived."
Forget your delusions,
says Gray, and you will be much happier.
2015 Christmas Day
Der Sinn der Religion
Die Welt gibt es nicht. Auch Gott
kann es demnach nicht geben, wenn wir unter "Gott" ein solches
Prinzip verstehen. Wir wissen nicht einmal, wer wir selbst sind,
sondern befinden uns auf der Suche. Wie Kierkegaard und Heidegger
erkannt haben, sind wir genau diejenigen Wesen, die sich auf dieser
Religion ist das Gegenteil einer
Welterklärung. ... Man könnte leicht provokativ sogar sagen, dass
der Sinn der Religion die Einsicht ist, dass es Gott nicht gibt,
dass Gott kein Objekt oder Supergegenstand ist, der den Sinn unseres
Wer sich mit der Gottesfrage unabhängig
von der Geschichtlichkeit des Geistes befasst, verfehlt die Frage
eigentlich schon. Dies haben die deutschen Idealisten, aber auch
Gadamer zutreffend unterstrichen. Gottes Existenz ist kein Problem
der Naturwissenschaften, da Gott selstverständlich nicht im
Asteroid 2003 SD220 zooms past Earth about 11 Gm away
Christmas Day: Full moon at 11:11 GMT
"We have peace. And
is what we
as we celebrate the birth of
God's only son,
Jesus Christ, the
prince of peace. As a Christian
what his birth represents:
and, above all, hope."
Senior British spies briefed
Angela Merkel on the
posed by Daesh. In return,
she briefed the heads of
MI6, and GCHQ on Russia. Germany is not a member of
Five Eyes US-UK-C-A-NZ
"Today we are setting out
a modern legal framework
brings together current
powers in a clear and
that sets new standards for
2015 Christmas Eve
London is to get £5 million of government
money to study its need for more concert halls, after £111 million
was spent between 2005 and 2007 on the Royal Festival Hall. A garden
bridge over the Thames at £100 million or more is currently
attracting pledges of public money. Crossrail was easy to fund at
£15 billion and Crossrail 2 will cost £27 billion.
Any other part of the UK asking for such sums would be laughed
out of court. Walk around parts of north Manchester, South
Yorkshire, or Teesside and you could still be in cold war eastern
Europe. These places are economically destitute. High speed rail
benefits the richer end of a line and will help London rather than
Birmingham or Manchester.
Capital city UK must stop sucking
up cash and help the rest. All public sector jobs not essential to
London should be moved out of town. New transport investment should
be between regional centers, not into London. Higher education
should move out. Getting students out of London would energize the
provinces and relieve the London rental market.
not need more big projects. They should be shared across the UK.
AR Poole needs more.
2015 December 23
Britain and Europe
As foreign secretary, I was closely
acquainted with central bodies of the European Union but had no
enthusiasm for them. The European Commission could benefit from
spending cuts, the European Court of Justice seems detached from
reality, and the European Parliament does not remotely provide
democratic accountability. My old friends and colleagues want to
leave the EU.
Yet here I part company with them. I
distinguish between deploring the state of the organization and
deciding it is best to leave it. The importance of the negotiations
the prime minister has launched should not be underestimated. What
happens at the end of them will make a huge difference to party
sentiment, media perceptions, government unity, and British voters.
Without the UK, the EU would be weaker. Amid all the clumsy
bureaucracy and failed ideas, the EU has provided the structure and
the standards for new democracies across central Europe to establish
themselves. The UK would be weakened too. Nationalist dismemberment
of the UK or of the EU would only increase the dangers of a
turbulent Mideast and a volatile world economy. It is not in our
interests for either union to fall apart. I am unlikely in 2016 to
vote for Brexit.
Germany and Europe
Germans have worked hard to purge the crimes
of the Nazi era. Europe is now facing a new Germany. It dominates
Europe and enforces rules it believes to be right.
feel they have done the right thing by taking a million asylum
seekers this year. They are now asking other Europeans to help out
by integrating migrants in their societies too. Germany is also
promoting a paramilitary force to police external EU borders.
Germany runs the eurozone and has bailed out sinking south
Europeans. It praises progress in Ireland, Spain and Portugal, and
expects Greece to improve budget discipline and public
Germany runs European foreign policy too. It
dragged reluctant eastern and southern European governments into
supporting sanctions on Russia and is even pushing for a deal with
Modern Germany wants a strong economic and political
order in Europe. Brits see the EU as a shipload of bossy bureaucrats
holding them back, and nationalist Brits want to abandon ship in a
dangerous old lifeboat. Germans want to make the EU work.
2015 December 22
Apple vs UK 1
Apple opposes a proposed new UK
surveillance law. Other big US tech groups agree that the British
bill sets a dangerous precedent for national spy agencies.
UK home secretary Theresa May introduced the measures in a draft
investigatory powers bill. The bill gives police and security
services access to the internet usage records of every UK citizen
without prior judicial authorization.
Apple submitted written
evidence to the committee scrutinizing the bill. British demands for
access to data held in other countries would "immobilize substantial
portions of the tech sector" and "likely be the catalyst for other
countries to enact similar laws, paralyzing multinational
corporations under the weight of what could be dozens or hundreds of
contradictory country-specific laws."
Twitter, Yahoo, and Microsoft will submit joint evidence to the
Apple vs UK 2
The New York Times
Apple says UK lawmakers who talk about
gaining court-ordered access to iPhone data do not
understand the technology: "The best minds in the world cannot
rewrite the laws of mathematics."
Washington lawmakers are
calling for the kind of access to text messages and cellphone data
that they have with telecom providers.
Apple: "Law enforcement today has access to more data — data
which they can use to prevent terrorist attacks, solve crimes and
help bring perpetrators to justice — than ever before in the history
of our world."
Physics vs Psychology
Modern theories in physics reflect a dangerous
departure from the scientific method. Theory has detached itself
from experiment. No one has the faintest idea how to access the tiny
distance scale of string theory, or on a big scale to see past our
George Ellis and Joe Silk: "Physicists,
philosophers and other scientists should hammer out a new narrative
for the scientific method that can deal with the scope of modern
Bayesian confirmation theory allows for the fact that modern
scientific theories typically reach beyond what can be directly
observed. It changes the perceived probability of a theory as new
information comes in. The Bayesian framework is flexible and
connects to the psychology of reasoning.
Richard Dawid cites
three arguments that lead string theorists to trust string theory:
1 Only one version of string theory
achieves unification in a consistent way. No other theory of
everything has been found that works. String theory is the only game
2 String theory grew out
of the Standard Model, which also had no alternatives for years.
This argument supports argument 1 by showing it has worked before in
3 String theory
has unexpectedly delivered explanations for several other
theoretical problems aside from the unification problem it was
intended to address.
Including such arguments in Bayesian
theory opens the floodgates to abandoning scientific principles.
Dawid: "But acknowledging that non-empirical confirmation is part of
science ... provides a better basis for having that discussion than
pretending that it wasn't there."
Bayesian theory does not
distinguish between different kinds of certainty. Carlo Rovelli says
the confirmation of atomic theory should not be measured in the same
units as that of string theory. He warns: "Do not trust your own
AR Good advice to all
greetings to all my readers: Keep fit and feel well
Joey and Bob
The fact that a British prime
forced to take the political
capitals in order to make the
laws that he
for Britain is the best possible
demonstration of the problem.
It is time for us to recover our
birthright. That is why I'll be
campaigning to leave."
AR Fox is a loyal servant
of the UK
Russian S-400 ADS in Syria
grounds US warplanes
be the year we
achieve something really vital,
changing the UK's
relationship with the EU and
addressing the concerns
of the British people."
President Putin orders
military to be
"extremely tough" on
threats in Syria
The UK government has made English housing too expensive.
It subsidizes home ownership,
penalizes the rental sector,
It should free up greenbelts
and reward new
Person of the Year
AR Governments worldwide
must team up
to kill off these
financial vampires that suck
AR Forget the prophecies:
they will parallel the
hints attributed to Jesus in
the Roman destruction of the
Temple in Jerusalem in
70 CE and the defeat of the
at Masada in 73 CE.
The Romans survived all that
2015 December 21
COP21 has changed little. Signatories
can make their excuses and promise to do better next time.
The UK Committee on Climate Change says Britain faces steeper
emissions cuts. It advises ministers that more than half of
new cars will have to be powered by electricity by 2030 and
most electricity will have to come from low-carbon sources by 2040
to have any impact on emissions. Solar and wind energy will do
little to help as long as they form only a small part of the
generating mix. A consensus is growing on the need to develop new
technology and invest in nuclear power.
After Paris, those
expecting more concerted action will be disappointed. Pragmatism
The UK decided long ago not to join the
euro and the Schengen zone. But the argument that formal British
exit from the EU now would merely confirm that decision is invalid.
The influx of refugees into Germany and the terrorist attacks in
France have put a de facto end to Schengen. Border controls are
back. And the eurozone will not become a federal union. With no
banking or fiscal union the euro is in effect a fixed exchange rate
The substantive disagreement between Britain and its
EU partners is not technically complicated. Brussels is good at
fixing legally intractable disputes. But in the past 20 years a gulf
of mutual separation and alienation has opened between Britain and
other European countries.
Globalization and European
integration produced losers, including some in the UK. Yet overall
the country did not lose. Britain could become a leader in Europe.
Christmas is a joyous time in our house and
I never fail to revel in it. I was raised with Christian values by a
Church of England mother to the amusement of my Jewish father and my
Buddhist uncle George. I was told that I could choose my own
religious beliefs when I grew up.
Multicultural as we were,
Christmas was joyously celebrated each year. We had a small tree,
simple decorations, one gift each and a stocking for Jackie, my
cousins and me. This would contain a small puzzle, a tiny book or
comic strip and a few sweets or an orange. How things have changed!
At Christmas in Birmingham a few years ago a cab driver told me:
"We can't even call it Christmas — it's Winterfest here — otherwise
it offends them."
The Daesh magazine Dabiq recently attacked
the old idea of "irja" (postponing). Faced with strife among the
first Muslims, proponents of irja said the question of who is a true
Muslim should be postponed to the afterlife. Faith was for God to
The "murjia" (postponers) soon sank as a heretical
sect. They left a mark in Hanafi-Maturidism in the Balkans, Turkey,
and Central Asia, but today there are no murjia. The word irja is
seldom heard among Islamic theologians.
The authors of the
Dabiq article accuse other Islamist rebel groups in Syria of irja
because they do not chop off hands and heads or force women into
black bags. Many millions of Muslims around the world engage in
irja. They cite the verse saying there is no compulsion in religion,
accept modern liberalism, or recall Sufism. Daesh targets them all.
Fellow Muslims, wear the irja badge with pride. It denotes piety
with humility. Only the arrogant judge other men in the name of God.
2015 December 20
The New York Times
Saudi Arabia will organize a military
coalition of 34 Islamic nations against terrorism. A Saudi prince
said it would not be limited to fighting Daesh but that Riyadh would
"coordinate and support military operations to fight terrorism"
across the Muslim world.
The minister cited not only Turkey
and Egypt but also Pakistan and Malaysia as members of the
coalition, though the latter said they were unaware of the plans.
Muslim countries not cited include Iran, Iraq, Oman, Algeria,
Indonesia, and Afghanistan.
Saudi Arabia finances the Wahhabi
religious schools and clerics spreading extremism. The proposed
coalition may be an attempt to divert attention from the Saudi
military intervention in Yemen and defer a reckoning for its own
role in spawning jihad.
The paucity of conservative thought is
partly the effect of the dominance of the left. If you come out as a
conservative in a university context, you will find yourself very
much on the margins. Conservative thought consists in recognizing
that human life is an end in itself and not a means to replace
itself with something else.
Liberation and social justice
have been bureaucratized. Social justice has become a process of
legislating to ensure that nobody is discriminating or standing out
above anybody else. Liberty is conceived as a form of empowerment
from the state in the form of vouchers or privileges. Both those
ideals have become the property of the state.
way to reconcile a serious moral order with economic freedom was
through religion, which removed certain things from the market. Sex
is removed from the market and made into a religious ceremony. This
the great benefit that religion has conferred on people down the
Rites of passage are not personal possessions but
possessions of the whole community. They are the ways the community
defines itself and its obligation toward the next generation. My
marriage means my children as much as my wife, and those children
are the product of our union. Our whole being on Earth is vindicated
Homosexuality is not one thing. Lesbianism is
usually an attempt by a woman to find the love she can no longer get
from men. Male homosexuality is hugely promiscuous. There is also an
obsession with the sexual organs and with the young. Homosexual
desire between men is not the same as heterosexual desire. This does
not mean condemning people or discriminating against them.
Muslims have to face the fact that in the UK women do not hide their
face in public. We define our relations with each other through the
idea of the I-thou relationship. We have to stand up not only for
free speech but also for all that we have inherited from the
Enlightenment and from Christianity.
2015 December 19
The Secret State
UK ministers are increasingly slipping
through contentious laws in statutory instruments (SIs). Primary
legislation is passed by parliament as acts that often delegate
power to ministers to frame detailed orders in SIs. The SIs are the
Modern governance micromanages our lives.
This requires fiddly regulations. We hate them but we need them. The
secondary legislation can also be "not in front of the children"
lawmaking, the children being MPs. The SI is discreet. Government
departments love short acts and long SIs.
The House of Lords
can kill SIs by a "fatal resolution" but rarely do so. Lord
Strathclyde proposes to revoke its license to kill and leave a mere
power of delay. This would make the SI route even more attractive to
government business managers.
This issue should worry
lawmakers. The lords' remit is to ask whether an SI is technically
sound, no more. Imagine a new act authorizing the home secretary to
do anything she liked through secondary legislation. Faced with her
Home Office General Powers (Slaughter of Male Babies) Regulations
(2015), the peers would be powerless to stop the slaughter.
Parliament needs a way to stop dodgy secondary powers being sneaked
into draft legislation. MPs vent their rage about threats to
parliamentary sovereignty from abroad and nod through the
undermining of democracy by our executive at home.
AR Ich vertraue die SI-Verfasser nicht
mehr als die Bürokraten in Brussels.
A hostile British exit from
the European Union would be bad for the UK. A legislative
repatriation of UK sovereignty as the EU slipped into crisis would
be shattering for the EU.
Existing views of the EU make
little sense. The belief in Berlin and Brussels that political union
will follow currency and fiscal union in the eurozone is doomed to
failure. Austerity will crush the periphery and leave Germany in
control. The UK vision of a looser EU fails in face of a belligerent
Russia. The looser the bonds, the weaker the EU response to outside
threats. A weak and unstable EU is not in British interests.
A single EZ state needs to be constructed by consolidating debt,
foreign policy, and border security.
It would save the euro and
enable NATO to secure the east for generations. A united EZ in
confederation with the UK and in NATO is in British interests.
AR Ich habe dieses Stück schon im Blog zitiert (2015-07-11) —
aber es hat noch Wucht.
2015 December 18
Merkel Gives Cameron Hope
Angela Merkel threw David Cameron a lifeline
last night by promising European Union treaty change after he was
forced to start retreating from his demand to limit migrant
The German chancellor came to his rescue during
lively late-night talks at a summit in Brussels. Cameron said the
talks had cleared "a pathway to an agreement" but that it would be
Merkel macht Cameron Hoffnung
Kein großer Fortschritt in
der Flüchtlingskrise, weiteres Tauziehen mit den Briten - die
Gipfelnacht von Brüssel brachte wenig gute Neuigkeiten. Doch
Kanzlerin Merkel ist voller Optimismus.
Staats- und Regierungschefs haben vor allem über die
Flüchtlingskrise und Großbritanniens Forderung nach Reformen der
Europäischen Union diskutiert. Merkel setzt darauf, dass Reformen
zunächst zwar viel Zeit kosten, die Effekte dann aber schnell
spürbar seien werden.
Gary Marcus founded Geometric Intelligence
while on leave from NYU. He says his work on how the human mind
works can help researchers make better artificial intelligence.
Algorithms that roughly model neurons and synapses gave rise to
an approach known as deep learning. But deep learning systems need
to be fed many thousands of examples to learn something, which is
not how the human mind works. The brain can acquire deeper
abstractions from relatively little data. Machines that learn such
abstractions quickly would be an improvement.
fascinated by the mind in high school after reading
The Mind's I, an anthology edited by Douglas Hofstadter and
Daniel Dennett, as well as Hofstadter's book
Gödel, Escher, Bach. Around then, work in AI used logical
programming languages, which soon proved impossibly complicated.
Artificial neural networks eventually led to the modern deep
Marcus computerized the analysis of
cognitive research data. He says the human mind learns both from
examples and by generating rules. Hence Geometric Intelligence.
AR The Hofstadter and Dennett books
fascinated me too. Hence
2015 December 17
Britain in Europe
Sir John Major
The British government's renegotiation of
the terms of UK membership of the European Union is important but it
should not decide whether or not we remain inside the EU. Flirting
with leaving is dangerous. Splendid isolation would not be in our
interests. If we left the EU it would not be a friendly departure;
it would be very acrimonious.
Britain Stronger in Europe
Britain Stronger in Europe campaign head
Lord Rose says the UK would have to pay £11 billion in new tariffs
if it left the EU and had to trade with the EU using WTO rules.
Campaigners for Brexit propose a deal ending all budget
contributions, ending free movement, repatriating economic
regulations, and yet retaining full access to the single market.
Rose: "They do not have a credible or achievable alternative
which can replicate, let alone improve upon, the benefits the single
market brings, and if they were to pursue their terms as currently
proposed there would be a real risk of Britain leaving Europe with
no trade deal at all."
UK prime minister David Cameron wants
a political agreement that the issues concerning the UK will be
addressed in time for detailed agreement at an EU summit in
German chancellor Angela Merkel: "We will not call
into question the core principles of European integration. These
include in particular the principle of free movement and the
principle of non-discrimination between European citizens."
AR I back Merkel on this.
2015 December 16
Paris: One Small
The Paris climate agreement is more than
the world could have reasonably expected a year or two ago. But it
is also less than we need to steer our civilization on Earth from
The negotiators showed that the global
community can agree to act in response to a shared danger. A process of peer review will ensure transparent and comprehensive
reporting and monitoring. But a global carbon price is needed.
So is technological innovation. This agreement is only a small
British astronaut and former Apache pilot Major
Tim Peake is the 221st person to live aboard the International Space
Station. His working day there will be filled with studies in
physiology, biology, space science, fundamental physics, materials
science, and Earth observation.
"The first sunrise was spectacular!"
Taboos and fetishes can be weaponized.
Holding them sacred can be an engine of cooperation or a destructive
plague. Preference falsification, the tendency for people to express
a public preference differing from their private preference, is part
of the mechanism. When people falsify their preferences, they can no
longer team up to desacralize taboos and fetishes.
Ideas of what is sacred can cause people
both to lie and to change their private preferences. The ideas
can bind people and blind them. Things held sacred define an
in-group and an out-group. When values are costly enough to assure
sincerity, attacking rivals or heretics provides evidence of
commitment. A battle over what is sacred is won when dissent is
replaced by preference falsification. Most people can alter their
perception of what is sacred based on social cues.
have a dual self. The bee self is social, observant of the sacred,
and highly public. The ape self likes instant gratification and is
resistant to cultural expectations. The bee self is
usually seen from the imagined perspective of others. The ape self
is felt from inside. Holding costly ideals sacred
involves a negotiation between the ape self and the bee self. The
bee self demands husbandry of preferences to balance different preferences.
An egregore is an occult concept representing a thought form or
collective group mind. Examples are gods or demons or dictator
cults. Positing beings like governments, religions, or institutions
may seem odd, but the actions of a government are built via human
agents. Obeying an egregore can look like
preference falsification. The idea that people can agree to choose
or create an egregore on the bee level that gives them the most
benefits on the ape level presupposes freedom of choice. That
freedom is vulnerable to virulent sacred egregores.
2015 December 15
FN leader Marine Le Pen says politics is
increasingly a contest between nationalists and globalists. The
defeat of FN and the climate accord were successes for the
globalists. Ultimately, the nations of the world are compelled to
work together in the common good.
I nod — GLOBORG
The state of Israel may not survive. This
is my lament.
Khameini: "Some Zionists have said that due to the outcome of the
nuclear negotiations, we have been relieved from worry about Iran
for 25 years. But we say to them, you will essentially not see the
next 25 years, and with the grace of God, something by the name of
the Zionist regime will no longer exist in the region."
nuclear exchange, even if an Israeli retaliation resulted in the
loss of millions of Iranians, millions more would survive, while
most of the Jews in Israel would be dead. With one bomb.
Knives. Daesh beheading videos flaunt a
knife cutting a throat. The fetishization of knifing began with the
knives drawn through the throats of Daesh captives, in episodes
redolent of ritual slaughter, now urged upon all Palestinians as a
No two-state solution is going to overcome the
incessant Palestinian incitement to murder Jews and to celebrate the
murderers as martyrs in the cause of destroying the Zionist entity.
No political settlement is going to end the threat of knife
Siege. Look around
Israel on a map:
North: Hezbollah in Lebanon
has up to 100,000 missiles. It is now allied with a nuclear
superpower on the ground. Hezbollah has an umbrella.
East: Daesh may already be in the West Bank and Gaza, and
is just across the border in Syria. The beheaders will soon be near
the city limits of Tel Aviv.
still has a sacred mission embedded in its covenant to murder all
West: Any properly equipped fishing
trawler has the capacity to lob a nuclear weapon onto Haifa.
AR I do —
2015 December 14
AR Our meeting
last night of a couple of dozen amateur philosophers was animated
and passionate. The consensus was that Daesh represents a serious
threat to western values and interests that has to be met at the
level of ideas before final victory can be declared. My argument
that we need to put a secular frame around the belief structures of
all three Abrahamic monotheisms met with general acceptance. The
Christian fundamentalist among us dissented.
Denmark and Britain are both members of the
European Union. We both hold dear the four freedoms: cross-border
movement of goods, people, services, and capital.
property law is exceptional. A Dane can easily buy a home in the UK,
but the Danes make it difficult for a Brit to buy one in Denmark.
They negotiated their exemption when they joined the Common Market.
Like the Danes, Britain is a special case. Like Germany, the UK
is one of the biggest magnets for immigrants. Unlike Germany, the UK
has a high rate of population growth, largely driven by recent
We need to hear soon about how Parliament can
halt the tide of EU regulation and regain some control of our
borders. If the Danes can be exceptional, so can we.
2015 December 13
Paris Climate Deal
Limit: Governments agreed to
limit warming to 1.5 K above pre-industrial levels. A rise of more
than 1.5 K risks triggering serious tipping points in global
climate. A 1 K rise is already fact.
Promises: Pledges so
far to cut or curb carbon emissions will not prevent a rise of 2 K
and may lead to a 2.7 K rise.
Goal: Countries pledge to
achieve a balance between anthropogenic emissions by sources and
removals by sinks of greenhouse gases — for net zero
emissions between 2050 and 2100.
Review: A review
of pledges every five years is intended to keep warming under 2 K.
5 Losses: A mechanism for addressing the financial losses
vulnerable countries face from climate impacts excludes
6 Money: Finance to help developing countries
adapt to climate change and transition to clean energy is not
legally binding. A flow of $100 billion a year will continue beyond
AR Encouraging show of global cooperation, tho nature
may overrule our efforts.
David Cameron says he is ready to send British
police, border guards, or the army to help to guard Europe's
external border. He made the offer in return for concessions on his
demands for a new relationship between Britain and the EU. Germany
and France are tabling plans to create an EU border and coastguard
force with the power to override the national sovereignty of Greece
and Italy to secure external frontiers.
AR Bang on. Good plan.
I Am A Muslim
I think of myself first and foremost as an
American. As an immigrant, that identity came to me through deep
conviction and hard work. I also think of myself as a husband,
father, guy from India, journalist, New Yorker and (on my good days)
an intellectual. But in today's political climate, I must embrace
another identity. I am a Muslim.
I am not a
practicing Muslim. The last time I was in a mosque, except as a
tourist, was decades ago. My wife is Christian, and we have not
raised our children as Muslims. I am completely secular in my
outlook. I am appalled by Donald Trump's bigotry and demagoguery not
because I am a Muslim but because I am an American.
AR Mistrustful as I am of Islam, I
support Fareed 100%.
2015 December 12
The New York Times
Established parties across Europe and
the United States are struggling to counter right-leaning populists
like Donald Trump, Marine Le Pen in France, and Viktor Orban in
Le Pen is now a contender for the French presidency
in 2017. She campaigns against the Islamization of France and
against the French government: "They are pulling out all the stops
for the migrants, the illegals, but who is looking out for our
retirees? They are stealing from the poor to give to foreigners who
did not even ask our permission to come here."
Trump wants to
close American borders to Muslims. Le Pen: "Seriously, have you ever
heard me say something like that? I defend all the French people in
France, regardless of their origin, regardless of their religion."
Establishment parties have failed to solve the economic problems
that vex most voters. Europeans are gloomy about the state of their
economies, and most expect children to be worse off than their
parents. In the United States, most voters say government polices
since 2008 have benefited the wealthy at the expense of the rest.
Even before the migrant crisis and the recent terrorist attacks,
the populists scored big gains in a dozen countries in 2014 EU
elections and led the polling in Britain and France.
Daesh is a religious gang controlling a
small patch of mostly desert land. We should focus on destroying it.
But as fierce clashes between the Russian army and Daesh terrorists
raged across Syria, a number of injured jihadis entered Turkish
territory and were admitted into military hospitals. Turkey was
discreetly helping Daesh not only by treating its wounded fighters
but also by facilitating the oil exports from its territories and by
brutally attacking the Kurdish forces. The Turks even shot down a
Russian fighter attacking Daesh positions in Syria.
Daesh are trying to provoke an
apocalyptic confrontation with the West. The human flight from Syria
reflects a failure of US and Western policy in response. Syrians
see that peace will not return before their children are
grown up, and that even if peace does come there will be nothing to
return to. So they are flooding into Germany.
The United States
cannot afford to leave Germany to take them all. Germans are bearing
the weight of the collapse of Syria, but America bears
responsibility for its causes. The Obama administration should say
yes to the UNHCR appeal to settle 65,000 refugees on an expedited
Taking 65,000 people is a political gesture to
encourage others. The goal is to relieve the
pressure on the frontline states. The refugees present a national
security challenge as much as a humanitarian crisis. Helping Europe
deal with them is critical to the battle against jihadi nihilism.
2015 December 11
Angela Fights For Europe
Angela Merkel has long kept Germany out of
war. With her decision to send warplanes to Syria, she is acting in
the Mideast to save Europe.
The war in Syria pits the
authoritarians Assad and Putin and the liberals of Europe and
America against Daesh, which seeks to upend them all in its
caliphate. By acting in Syria, Merkel is fighting less to destroy
Daesh than to save EU solidarity.
Xenophobic views have
broken into the mainstream in Europe. If Marine Le Pen becomes the
next president of France, she will all but dismantle the European
Union. Britain and others would follow France, leaving Germany
Merkel will show that Germany can take firm action
alongside France and Britain against a common European threat.
UK prime minister David Cameron failed to
convince Polish prime minister Beata Szydlo to back his plan to
reform benefits for EU migrants.
Szydlo: "Free movement of
people is a fundamental thing ... we will be convincing our partners
to keep this in place ... There is a common direction and the future
discussions in January will only take us closer to a solution."
Cameron: "I want to keep Britain in a reformed EU."
US presidential hopeful Donald Trump
says Muslims should be banned from entering the United States until
the administration can work out just what drives Islamic violence.
His comments are not just ludicrous but morally and politically
illiterate, making no distinction between Islamic extremists and the
millions of Muslims who live decent, unthreatening lives.
Banning Trump or calling him a fascist is merely an attempt to
silence him. The British and French public may not care for Trump or
Marine Le Pen, yet they understand that they are saying what is all
too obvious but mainstream politicians deny, that the European Union
is now a threat to public safety and that Muslim society provides
the toxic sea in which Islamic terrorism swims.
wrong to call for a total ban. But it is perfectly reasonable to
object to further large-scale Muslim immigration. The public have
had it up to here with politicians and the intelligentsia refusing
to acknowledge the fanatical religious roots of Islamic terrorism.
They are enraged by the reflexive charge of Islamophobia to silence
Arabs vs Aryans
A proxy war between the Sunni Arabs in the Gulf and
the Shiite Aryans of Iran is raging in Yemen. Saudi Arabia and its
Gulf allies are disinclined to carry out strikes against Daesh
targets if doing so helps Iran's allies in Damascus and Baghdad.
They see Daesh as worse for Iran than for Arabs.
professor Fawaz Gerges: "ISIS doesn't just exist in Syria and Iraq,
it has major constituency supporters in almost all Arab countries,
including Saudi, Kuwait, Lebanon, and Jordan. ... Also, remember
that one of the largest contingencies within ISIS are the Saudis."
2015 December 10
Angela Merkel became German Chancellor
in 2005. This year she managed EU debt crises, led the
western response to Russian aggression in Ukraine, and rose to the
migrant and refugee crisis.
Merkel agreed to bail Greece out
on strict terms. She chose to welcome refugees as casualties of
radical Islamist savagery, not carriers of it. And she decided
to deploy troops abroad in the fight against Daesh. Merkel brandished
values of humanity, generosity, and tolerance. German strength would
be used wisely and well, shedding an old and haunting national
The woman who had trained as a quantum chemist made
her stand. Protesters called her a traitor, allies warned of revolt,
and opponents warned of economic collapse and cultural suicide.
Merkel: "Wir schaffen das."
Life and Daesh
Fazel Hawramy, Shalaw Mohammed, Kareem Shaheen
militants have tightening their grip on Raqqa and Mosul. Raqqa
resident Tim Ramadan describes the city now as a giant prison. Mosul
resident Raafat Alzirai: "Mosul has become like a big prison and
people appear to be sedated with the hope that one day things will
Daesh bans smoking and punishes people caught
listening to music or using the internet or mobile phones. Hundreds
are defying a ban on leaving, often paying smugglers to get them
In Raqqa, men must wear loose clothes and unshaven
beards and are stopped and searched at random. Women stay indoors.
Electricity is available sporadically, based chiefly on the whim of
the militants. Propaganda is everywhere. Minor infractions earn a
few dozen lashes in a public square. Teenagers run security in the
city. Others are sent off as suicide bombers.
school ... they bring a bomb to class to show it to the
children and tell them they have nothing to fear from it because
they are men, and the creative writing exercise is about a boy whose
father carries out a suicide bombing ... Can you imagine living like
this for another ten years?"
No. Common humanity demands a response.
2015 December 9
Jersey is a small island in the English
Channel where almost any tax could be avoided. Bankers and tax
exiles moved in, driving up prices and importing the morals of the
City of London. Their profits in 2007 were more than £1 billion.
Before the crisis, rich Brits put their money into Jersey, where
foreign businesses paid no tax and local firms paid just 20%. Jersey
helped anyone to avoid anything. It was consistently ranked among
the top jurisdictions worldwide facilitating illicit financial flows
and capital flight, ahead of the British Virgin Islands, Panama, and
In 1997, European Union officials took action.
They required all member states to tax local and nonlocal companies
the same. Jersey's business model was at risk. If it raised taxes,
its trade would go to the Isle of Man, Dublin, Singapore, or Hong
So in 2008, Jersey abolished taxes for all companies
except financial firms (which paid 10%) and utilities (20%). Between
2009 and 2010, tax receipts from companies fell by two thirds. The
government has failed to fill the gap, and now its budget deficit is
£145 million. Officials plan to cut benefits for pensioners, single
parents and young people, and to lay off public sector workers.
Jersey's financial sector is still seven times larger than the
agricultural and hospitality sectors put together. Its economy is
hollowed out. Jersey bet its future on finance and let its other
industries shrivel — like another, bigger island off the coast of
Mary Beard and Tom Holland have written
histories of Rome. Beard starts with Cicero in 63 BCE and closes
with the emperor Caracalla in 212 CE, a century before the
conversion of Constantine to Christianity. Holland starts in 40 CE
with Caligula and tells the story of Augustus, Tiberius, Caligula,
Claudius, and Nero, the megalomaniac who let Rome burn in 64 CE. It
seems the name of Christ was known in Rome when Claudius expelled
the Jews from the city in around 50 CE.
2015 December 8
Daesh want the United States and its
allies to be dragged into a ground war. The group bases its ideology
on prophetic texts stating that Islam will be victorious after an
apocalyptic battle to be set off once Western armies come to the
Daesh propaganda is rife with
references to apocalyptic prophecy about the last great battle that
sets the stage for the end times. Terrorism experts say it is a
powerful recruiting tool. Potential fighters are promised a chance
to battle Western interests and fulfill ancient Islamic prophecies.
The scripture they reference describes a battle in Dabiq and
al-Amaq in northern Syria. The countdown to the apocalypse begins
once the "Romans" set foot there. Dabiq is now the name of a Daesh
magazine that promotes the looming apocalypse. Amaq is the name
of a Daesh news agency.
Obama administration has armed and supported militias in Iraq and
Syria to give a local veneer to the tip of the sword, with mixed
results. Proponents of a ground assault say an even bigger
recruiting drive than the apocalyptic prophecy is the Daesh promise
of a caliphate.
Faith Is Not the Problem
A paper for the UK government says that
in many parts of urban Britain different tribes are living "together
apart" with an internal cohesion but at best benign indifference and
at worse malign antipathy to outsiders. Zygmunt Bauman speaks of
"mixophobia" created by insecurity.
The Commission on
Religion and Belief in Public Life called for the UK to be
de-Christianized. But downplaying religion overall is foolish. Not
faith but but extremism is the problem. The passerby at Leytonstone
station was right to tell the jihadist knife man: "You ain't no
are like the
The New York Times
The US Air Force Boeing B-52
Stratofortress was built during the Eisenhower administration. Its
vacuum tubes have been replaced
with microchips, but its engines
still connect to the cockpit by cables and pulleys. The first B-52
rolled out in 1954, the
last in 1962.
The Air Force took more than 740 of them at around $8
million each, and 76 are still in the USAF bomber fleet.
Defense officials keep planning replacements. A
nuclear-powered bomber was too radioactive, the supersonic B-58 kept
and the B-70 spewed toxic exhaust. The B-1 flew fast and
low, but design flaws and engine fires dogged it in the 1991
Gulf war and
have limited it since. The B-2 had a delicate stealth
skin and became known as the $2 billion bomber that cannot go
out in the rain.
The next contender, the LRSB, is decades away, so
the B-52 is expected to keep flying until at least 2040.
Aircrews in Vietnam called the B-52 the Buff, the big ugly fat
fucker. Buffs began bombing South Vietnam in 1965, and in 1972
of them rained bombs on Hanoi in North Vietnam. In the Gulf
war, Kosovo, Afghanistan, and the Iraq war, Buffs demoralized enemy
ground troops by first dropping tons of leaflets and then returning
the next day with the goods.
The Air Force is trying to
change the image of the B-52 to precision weapon. Laser targeting
pods under the wings let them drop
smart bombs. Afghanistan Buff
pilot Lt Col Sarah Hall: "We're as accurate as a fighter. And
sometimes just the sight of the B-52 is
enough to end the fight. The
enemy just takes off."
Regional election results:
François Hollande / Soc: 23%
Nicolas Sarkozy / Rep: 27%
Le Pen / Nat: 30%
Shores of Sputnik
Son of Robin Hood
2015 December 7
The threat from terrorism is real, but we
will overcome it. We will destroy ISIL and any other organization
that tries to harm us.
We will prevail by being strong and
smart, resilient and relentless. Congress should act to make sure no
one on a no-fly list is able to buy a gun. What could possibly be
the argument for allowing a terrorist suspect to buy a semiautomatic
weapon? This is a matter of national security.
60% of Americans disapprove of how Obama is handling terrorism
Plague and Hellfire
The V&A has a new display of European arts
and crafts from the age of Caravaggio to the time of Napoleon. Wax
tableaux from Naples show emaciated corpses rotting on plague-ridden
streets and a screaming soul suffering the fires of hell. An ivory
sculpture by Joachim Henne depicts death as a wasted, skeletal
maniac waving two drumsticks, beating the march of war and disease.
Plague still menaced Baroque Europe and holy wars ravaged it.
But Europe grew and by the age of Napoleon it dominated the world.
This is a rich series of galleries to see again and again, a walk
from darkness into light. We live in a world the Enlightenment made,
the world of science and technology, but it grew from an age when
everyone looked death in the eye every day.
2015 December 6
Hilary Benn, Wednesday: "We are here faced
Wrong. We cannot cram today's
problems into the framework of the last century. Fascism was
hierarchical, Islamism is a loose network. Fascism was
national, Islamism is international.
Dostoevsky, in Crime and Punishment, gave the nihilist murderer
Raskolnikov a feverish dream:
"Whole settlements, whole cities
and nations, were infected and went mad. Everybody was in a state of
alarm, and nobody understood anybody ... People killed each other
with senseless rage. Whole armies were mustered against each other,
but as soon as the armies were on the march they began suddenly to
tear themselves apart. ... Everything and everybody went to wrack
Syria, Iraq, Libya, Yemen, and Nigeria today: Islamic extremists
turn to massacre while western liberals refuse to see the threat.
Dostoevsky's plague is raging. Yet Hilary Benn thinks we are
AR This is
Warum es die Welt nicht gibt
Martin Heideggers Frage
nach dem Sinn von Sein ist legendär. Markus Gabriel fragt, warum es
alles gibt, nur nicht die Welt.
Ein Sinnfeld ist bei Gabriel
der Bereich, in dem bestimmte Gegenstände erscheinen. Wenn wir etwa
versuchten, einen Tisch unter dem Aspekt seiner physikalischen
Beschaffenheit zu untersuchen, dann wäre dies eben der Tisch in
einem naturwissenschaftlichen Sinnfeld. Die physikalische
Beschreibung ist aber nur eine von vielen.
einen neuen Realismus begründen, der naturwissenschaftlichen
Fundamentalismus ebenso wie einen radikalen Perspektivismus
vermeiden soll. Für ihn ist Erkenntnis die angemessene Erfassung
eines Gegenstandes innerhalb der Regeln seines Sinnfeldes. Er wendet
sich gegen den Neurokonstruktivismus, der versucht, der Philosophie
die Aufgabe der Begriffsklärung abzunehmen, indem sie alles auf
Gehirnaktivitäten als Fundament zusammenschnurren lassen.
Erscheinen der Phänomene und die Tatsache, dass sie für uns Menschen
immer in Sinnfeldern erscheinen, gehörten zu ihrer Existenz. Sinn
sei eine ontologische Kategorie, auch etwas prinzipiell
Unabgeschlossenes, weil er endlos Bedeutung produziert.
Gabriel hat das Heidegger-Vehikel aus der Garage geholt und es mit
einer neuen Politur behandelt.
AR Sinn war für Frege nicht ontologisch.
Gabriel schlägt eine Neuigkeit vor.
2015 December 5
Late Monday night in
Dresden, Germany, former English Defence League leader Tommy
Robinson gave a speech to a large group of PEGIDA supporters.
After Tommy left the EDL he spent time in jail and then worked
with The Quilliam Foundation. He still thinks Islam poses a real and
growing risk to the culture and identity of Europe. In Prague he met
representatives from PEGIDA and the Czech group Bloc Against Islam.
Czech Republic president Milos Zeman spoke at a Bloc rally: "We
have no problems with foreigners: there are half a million in the
Czech Republic. But this culture is not compatible with ours. Ours
is not a culture of murder or religious hatred. The immigrants are
young men. Why are these men not fighting for the freedom of their
country against Islamic State? Why do they come to Europe? Why don't
they stay to make their own countries better?"
with PEGIDA organizer Siegfried "Siggy" Däbritz and Bloc leader
Martin Konovka. They agreed on a big demonstration on February 6
under the banner:
SAVE OUR CULTURE — SAVE OUR COUNTRY —
SAVE OUR FUTURE
They say the influx of immigrants from Muslim
majority countries poses an existential threat to European identity.
They are not racist but talk of human rights, free expression, and
A UK branch of PEGIDA is planned. Tommy: "No
alcohol at any future demonstration. No fighting with the far left.
It's too serious now for that stuff."
The liberal order in Europe is history. The
progressive narrative of freedom has left liberal Europeans unaware
of its fragility. Overthrowing despots in the name of freedom, we
have put our own freedom at stake. The danger to freedom now is not
state power but its absence.
The migrant crisis is driven by
a flight from failed or failing states. Many of the migrants are
fleeing countries whose states were dismantled by western policies.
The West cleared zones of anarchy in which Daesh has thrived. The
process released the forces of theocracy.
institutions lack the capacity to tackle a security challenge of
this magnitude. The nation states of Europe are seizing control of
their borders to stem a mounting threat to their security. This
looks like the beginning of the end of the era of mass migration
The European Union claims many of the
prerogatives of statehood but cannot deliver the safety that states
exist to serve. The Daesh strategy of savagery serves an apocalyptic
myth of cataclysmic battles and a universal caliphate. We must
destroy Daesh by military force.
Tim Snyder said stateless zones led to the Holocaust (blog
2015 December 4
Right Call on Syria
After the Paris attacks, France made a
specific request to Britain to assist it in targeting Daesh over
Raqqa. For the UK to have refused its closest European military ally
would have been a dereliction of duty. It would have been especially
hard to justify after the passage of a UN Security Council
resolution that calls on nations to take all necessary measures to
Chatham House experts discuss UK air strikes in Syria
President Hollande said of COP 21:
"This is about the future of the planet, the future of life." In
fact, the natural world has evolved and developed through ice ages
and warm periods. The geographical spread of some species will
change and some species may be pushed into extinction, but the
natural world will adapt.
Some changes may be uncomfortable
for humans. But we can adapt to cope with them. Our main problem is
to save cities swamped by the rise in sea levels. Higher levels of
atmospheric carbon dioxide may accelerate this process by a few
decades, but it seems inevitable until the Earth enters the next
The Earth has warmed up by an average of 1 K
since pre-industrial times, according to some data sets. But the
increase is greater at the poles than at the equator, the land
masses of the northern hemisphere have warmed much more than south
of the equator, and much of the increase is due to warmer nights.
Carbon dioxide is vital for life. Its presence in the air helps
trap heat from the Sun, which stops Earth freezing over. Ocean
acidification is no problem. Seawater is slightly alkaline and
highly buffered, and even large increases in dissolved CO2 only
nudge the pH closer to neutral. Sea life evolved over periods when
CO2 levels were much higher.
New observations are consistent
with the projections of climate models. Given their wide range of
outputs, this is unsurprising. Science should be objective and
2015 December 3
RAF Tornado jets launched air strikes
against Daesh targets in Syria, a few hours after the House of Commons
voted 397 to 223 in favor of extending the strikes over Iraq to
The debate lasted over 10 hours and ended for Labour
when shadow foreign secretary Hilary Benn defied his leader to plead
passionately for MPs to do their "moral duty" and stand up to the
"fascists" in Syria. He sat down to rapturous applause. Conservative
foreign secretary Philip Hammond closed the debate and hailed Benn's
powerful oration as "outstanding — one of the great speeches".
AR Benn should be the next Labour
leader. He would do well.
ESA Launches LISA
A hundred years ago Einstein published his theory of
general relativity. Yesterday the European Space Agency launched the
LISA (laser interferometer space antenna) Pathfinder mission into
space. Inside the satellite two 5 cm gold-platinum cubes will float
35 cm apart in a chamber where their position is measured by a laser
with picometer precision. Once the satellite is in near-zero gravity
at Lagrange point L1 any movements will be analyzed for evidence of gravity
waves, as predicted by Einstein's theory. The mission is a proof of
concept for a bigger LISA array.
Gravity wave astronomy could tell us a lot about black holes.
2015 December 2
First coined in 1995 by David Chalmers,
the hard problem of consciousness highlights the distinction between
registering and actually feeling a phenomenon. Such feelings are
Physicalists say science can explain consciousness.
But if physical laws are causally closed, then consciousness is
irrelevant. If a zombie world can be like ours except that its
people have no qualia, then physicalists cannot explain qualia.
Modern science left humans feeling like pigs in space. Our moral
universe was erased. Then physicists saw a way back for
consciousness in our world. In quantum mechanics the observer might
be actively involved in constructing reality.
want to forget about consciousness, while others seek its neural
correlates. Will they explain qualia? Chalmers says no. He insists
on the primacy of subjective experience.
AR On pigs in space, see
es die Welt nicht gibt by Markus Gabriel.
2015 December 1
Bombs on Raqqa Fill Daesh with Joy
Since the Paris attacks, western
politicians have been walking into a trap. After 9/11, George W
Bush's "war on terror" turned out to be a terrorist recruitment
program. Daesh is Bush's baby.
Raqqa is a favorite target of
western bombers, even though only a couple of thousand Daesh
fighters remain in the city. France is currently bombing everything
that looks like camps or barracks. And for every murdered child,
there will be new terrorists.
More bombing will fill Daesh
fighters with joy. We could only make them happier if we were to
send in ground troops as well. Daesh fanatics are desperate to live
out their imaginary apocalyptic showdown between good and evil by
fighting against western troops on the ground.
Ways to beat
1 Stop Gulf states delivering
weapons to terrorists in Syria and Iraq.
Help Turkey seal its long border with Daesh-occupied territory.
3 Bring peace to Iraq and Syria by
integrating Sunnis into political life.
AR If it's joy they want, let's give it to them.
Carbon Cuts Cost
A Paris treaty will achieve very little in
temperature reductions but could cost at least $1 trillion a year.
We owe the world more, both in terms of tackling climate change and
in spending resources wisely.
If all the promised carbon cuts
are made, emissions will fall by 56 billion tons of CO2 by 2030. The
cuts needed to stop warming of more than 2 K are over 100 times
Cutting temperatures by even a trivial amount will
cost trillions. Spending money that way — while billions lack food,
health, water and education — is nothing short of immoral.
AR Carbon taxes will only please